Retail sales rose 7.7% in NovemberThe holiday shopping season is off to an even better-than-expected start, according to new sales figures from the federal government.

The Commerce Department's retail and food services sales tally for November rose to $378.7 billion, up 7.7% from November 2009 and up 0.8% from October. Excluding auto sales, totals were up 6.7% from the year-ago month, and retail sales alone were up 8.1%. With this latest boost, year-to-date sales are up 7.7% over last year's first 11 months, supporting retailers' recent view that the recession is finally losing its hold on shoppers.

While some segments showed a drop from October -- including car dealers (-1%) electronics (-0.6%) and furniture stores (-0.5%) -- all retail segments showed strong increases year-over-year, despite being compared to healthy sales in November 2009. Auto sales likely suffered from the comparison to September and October, when the start of the new model year typically boosts totals, while electronics sales continue to suffer from dropping prices for large-screen TVs and other big-ticket items.

Big Chains Beat Forecasts

Holiday gift-shopping lifted several categories, including hobby, book and music stores (up 12.3% year-over-year) and apparel (up 7.5%). Both segments were also up noticeably from the month before, 2.3% and 2.7%, respectively.

The increases were not totally unexpected because major retailers had already reported strong sales over the Thanksgiving weekend -- spurred in large part by stores that started Black Friday sales earlier than usual. Still, the top national chains reported nearly 6% growth, better than the 3% to 4% analysts had forecast.

The Commerce Department's tally is the most complete picture of retail sales because it includes gas, food and auto sales, as well as results for Walmart (WMT), the world's largest retailer, which doesn't publicly report monthly sales.

A Strong Start for December

"The November performance was strong across most segments and was helped by a confluence of factors, including easy comparisons (back-to-back November declines in 2008 and 2009), colder-than-normal weather, early promotions, aggressive post-Thanksgiving marketing and a recovering economy," said a report from Michael Niemira chief economist of the International Council of Shopping Centers

And December is off to the good early start, according to the ICSC's weekly tally, which found sales rose 3.1% last week over the same time last year and 0.8% over the previous week.

"That is a rather impressive increase over the past two weeks, but consumers are still a tad below last year's pace and noticeably below two years ago, which suggests a stronger late-buying rush over the next two weeks," Niemira noted. Based on the strong performance in November and the momentum so far in December, he revised his holiday season forecast up by half a percentage point, calling for growth of 3.5% to 4% above last year, the strongest since 2006.

"Shopping Smartly"

Indeed, three holidays into this economic downturn, retailers are facing the fourth quarter with more of a sense that consumers have begun spending again, however cautiously.

"The consumer is shopping, she is shopping smartly and looking for good value on good product," says David Friedman, marketing president at Sears Holding (SHLD). "We are cautiously optimistic."

The parent of Sears and Kmart is seeing a pickup in jewelry -- an encouraging sign that nonessentials are selling -- as well as electronics, home appliances and other large-ticket items, Friedman says.

"I think she's sort of found the new normal," he says, "and is now interested in moving forward from that place." Moving forward is something retailers have been waiting to do for quite a while.

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Hmm unemployment up, but people are shopping does that work!!!Just don't get it. Dont think Einstein would of believed this theory either.

December 16 2010 at 1:49 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

These sales were not from my purchases. I slowly purchased all my items over the internet because that is where I can find American made products. My news years resolution is that I hope more Americans will buy American products. Merry Christmas to all, democrats and republicans alike. Lets get along and make this country great.

December 15 2010 at 5:54 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
onemightylight ======================== (long article appears in part only)...========================================

CNN's bad news for Obama: 6 of 10 doubt U.S. birth story---Posted: August 04, 2010 (margin of error: 3%)..================........................
A new poll by CNN, whose editorial commentary largely supports President Obama and his policies, delivered some bad news on his apparent birthday today: 6 of 10 people are uncertain the president was even born in the United States..........

The poll was taken July 16-21 of 1,018 adults, including 335 Democrats and 285 Republicans. It has a margin of error of 3 percentage points..........

The question was: "Do you think Barack Obama was definitely born in the United States, probably born in the United States, probably born in another country, or definitely born in another country?" ..........

Definitely in the United States got the vote from 42 percent of the respondents and probably in the United States another 29 percent...........

Six of 10 Americans uncertain about the president's birth – and therefore his eligibility under the U.S. Constitution to be president..........

Sixteen percent said Obama probably was born in another nation, and 11 percent said he definitely was born somewhere other than the U.S..........

Breaking it down, 64 percent of Democrats believe he definitely was born in the U.S., leaving more than one in three Democrats not sure. For independents, 37 percent believe he definitely was born in the U.S., leaving some two in three unsure. For members of the GOP, not even one in four (23 percent) believes Obama definitely was born in the U.S...........

Fully 41 percent of the GOP believe he definitely or probably was born outside the United States. That's nearly 30 percent for independents..........

"It's surely not what the leader of the free world wants for his birthday. But, for a stubborn group of Americans, conspiracy theories about President Obama's birthplace are the gifts that keep on giving," CNN said..........

December 15 2010 at 4:56 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to onemightylight's comment

What's going on here? Could it be that Soosie and Lynda are one and the same?

December 15 2010 at 4:17 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

Soosie, again, you are wrong. It was common knowledge that McCain provided his birth cert. and all was in order. There was never a question about his citizenship; everyone knows that a baby born on a military base is born is by Constitution, a natural born citizen of our country, any military base is considerd American soil. Access the Constitution online and read it. On the other hand, there is no definitive proof about the birth cert. that is claimed to be locked up and vaulted in Hawaii. Do you think people are above being sucked into saying what they're told to say under given circumstances? You can use your imagination on that, there are some strong theories. WHY else would he be spending nearly $1 MILLION PER YEAR TO KEEP HIS RECORDS OUT OF PUBLIC REACH from the very people who have a right to be sure who he is? NO ONE HAS EVER ATTEMPTED TO ANSWER THAT. As I stated earlier, there are supposedly as many as 17 different social security numbers that he has used and one is proven to belong to a dead man that lived quite a long time ago. There are supposed to be more than one passport with different names on them, including "Barry Soetero" and that one is supposed to have been issued in Indonesia, which is the only way he could have spent 3 weeks in Pakistan as a college student. The USA had put a ban on Americans entering Pakistan then because of the danger level. Now if he was issued that passport by Indonesia he had to be a citizen of that country. His records for school in Indonesia are filled out with his last name as Soetero, as was his step-father's names, and his religion was listed as "Muslim." You can find that document online via Google. Let's not forget that he had to swear under oath that he had never gone by another name other than BHO or any alias. We know he let us all down on that swearing in. As for the "cert. of live birth" that was put on his website, that short form proves nothing except a baby was born. It is not the actual birth cert. at all, and what he offered didn't have a doctor's signature as the attending doc that delivered him or the name of the hospital, that would never have remained blank! And that is if it is authentic. The one he had on his website but ABRUPTLY HAD REMOVED when it was questioned, has been declared to be most likely a fraud by 3 experts who said it is in a computer font not available before 2007, and the original document would have been TYPEWRITTEN, as we didn't have the technology to reproduce such in his birth year in the 1960's. Further, the decorative border on birth certificates was changed EVERY YEAR in Hawaii to prevent fraud. It showed no creases from folding, which is how they are mailed. Explain that away, please. The one on his website has the wrong border.....again, it is from a recent computer graphic reproduction. How is it that Dr. Howard Dean, a pediatrician, managed to be the head of the NRA that year, had the responsibility to properly vet him and didn't do it? That alone should have disqualified him. You want more? I have it! There is more than enough for this issue to enter into any attempt for him to run for reelection, and you might finding people petitioning for him to have to display such records if he wants the confidence of the American people....and why would he object to that? There IS NO REASON why he should hesitate to put the people at ease. As it stands, he looks awfully suspicious to nearly half of all Americans. I won't take the time or space to address his college records, who paid his tuition, his thesis, or why he's no longer licensed to practice law now. Nor will I address the announcement of his birth in the newspaper, which listed his parents as married and living at a non-existent address. The only explanation for that is it was to attempt to establish that he was born there until his mother could travel w/him and attempt to get a cert. issued. That announcement was an apparent ploy by grandma! We'll save that for your next challenge! lol

December 15 2010 at 4:10 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

Under the " A strong start to December" header, read paragraph 3. It says consumers are still buying less than last year! What a trite and contradictory article!

December 15 2010 at 1:33 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

Soosie, Panama was an American Naval Base. Any military used area in any country is considered USA territory. I thought everyone knew that. There has never been a question about McCain's qualifying citizenship. He very willingly provided his birth cert.....unlike your fella.

December 14 2010 at 10:43 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to onemightylight's comment

Just the opposite........McCain never provided a copy of his.......Obama did.......FYI.......I'm sure you were told the opposite though on Planet Fox.

December 15 2010 at 12:03 AM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply

The only question before the Senate WAS McCain's qualification.........unlike "my fella's"

December 15 2010 at 12:06 AM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply

China must be celebrating.....

December 14 2010 at 10:41 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

idiots. stop with this buying foreign goods. americans don't give a dam about american made. proof in the pudding. the KENYAN!

December 14 2010 at 8:46 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to CADNR's comment

Don't you mean "the Hawaiian".........Hawaii being an American state........which makes him "made in America" so to speak, following your twisted opposed to "the Panamanian".........John McCain........which makes him "made in Panama"........and whom YOU voted for. So.......who's the idiot........who doesn't care about American made?

December 14 2010 at 9:45 PM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply
hi cat

I could turn my view around on Obama if he showed himself a TRUE American:
1) America first. Illegal aliens get out no more of American resources to reward your crimes
2) TARIFFS on all imports. The USA never needed income taxes before the 1913 coup by the bank cartel and the Fed /IRS 1-2 enslavement punch. Our entire budget was financed by TARIFFS That protectionism is suicide mantra by the overseas manufacturers is BULL...T
3) Buy American if you can find a product. Chinese products coming here thru sellout "American entrepreneurs" are made by slaves and children and are riddled with toxic materials.

December 14 2010 at 8:45 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to hi cat's comment

Dream on

December 14 2010 at 9:10 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Brilliant post.He wont though,he's just another CFR new world order shill like Bush and the rest of the gang.

December 14 2010 at 10:38 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply