November Retail Sales Up 0.2 Percent

U.S. retail and food services sales for November increased 0.2 percent to $399.3 billion, slightly below expectations but increasing for the sixth consecutive month.

The Commerce department reported electronics and appliance stores saw some of the biggest increases in the month, rising 2.1 percent from October. Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores increased 0.5 percent.

Economists had expected an increase of 0.5 percent in total retail sales, according to Bloomberg's consensus figure, with earlier reports of a strong Black Friday for most retailers like Macy's and Limited Brands.

Retail sales were lower than expected despite stronger new car sales, which rose 0.5 percent.

Peter Morici, a professor at University of Maryland Smith School of Business, said economists had been marking up their GDP forecasts on the strength of retail sales and better than expected trade deficit numbers. But Tuesday's report and waning net imports indicate a weaker than expected GDP in the fourth quarter.

More people may be delaying shopping until after the holidays due to financial constraints. Deloitte reported 6 percent of the more than 5,000 respondents in its annual holiday survey plan to wait until January for the bulk of their Christmas shopping.

Retail sales have been steadily on the rise since the summer. Sales for September through November increased 7.4 percent from the same period last year, the Commerce department reported. November's retail sales were up 6.7 percent from a year earlier.

October's retail sales were revised upward to an increase of 0.6 percent from the previously reported 0.5 percent.

Sales fell from October for building material, garden equipment and supplies dealers, food and beverage stores, health and personal care stores, gas stations and food services.

The National Retail Federation reported at the end of November reported record Black Friday sales. Many stores, including Macy's and Target, opened at midnight on Black Friday for the first time ever.

According to a survey conducted for the federation, 226 million people visited brick-and-mortar and online stores during the four-day Black Friday shopping window, an increase of 14 million shoppers from last year. Consumers cumulatively spent an estimated $52 billion during the holiday shopping rush.