US retail sales up lower than expected in November


People buy clothing from a Target store in Westbury, New York, USA on May 20, 2021. Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US retail sales grew less than expected in November, likely to bounce back from last month, when Americans began their holiday shopping earlier to avoid overpaying for goods amid a shortage of products Was.

Retail sales rose 0.3% last month, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday. Figures for October were revised upwards and now show an increase of 1.8% instead of the 1.7% increase released earlier. This is the fourth consecutive monthly high.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected retail sales to rise 0.8% in November. Estimates ranged from stability to as high as 1.5%.

Several top US retailers are reported to begin holiday shopping in mid-November.

Demand for trillions of dollars of items provided by governments around the world to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic hit supply chains. The shortage resulting from incentives, from vehicles to furniture and electronics, has driven up product prices.

Consumer inflation rose 0.8% in November, an increase of 6.8% over the same period of the previous year – the highest level since June 1982.

A modest rise in retail sales is unlikely to change the views that the US economy is picking up steam after a third-quarter slowdown caused by the delta version of the coronavirus and massive product shortages.

The report is released as Federal Reserve officials prepare to finalize their two-day monetary policy meeting.

The expectation is that the Fed will announce an acceleration in the pace of a gradual reduction in monthly bond purchases given the high inflation outlook. Discussions are on for an early hike in interest rates next year.

Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales declined 0.1%, after a 1.8% increase in October. So-called sales correspond more closely to the component of consumer spending in core gross domestic product (GDP).

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, grew at an annual rate of 1.7% in the third quarter. For more than half of the fourth quarter, consumer spending has increased over the past three months.

(by Lucia Mutikani)


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