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Fed: CE, Majap Retail Sales Are Up

– Sales at consumer electronics and major
appliance specialty stores are steadily improving, according to the U.S.
Census Bureau.

The agency’s latest monthly retail
data shows that sales for the sector rose 2.8 percent in November over October,
to nearly $8.8 billion, while October sales rose 0.3 percent over September’s

What’s more, sales from September
through November rose 3.5 percent over the June through August period for the
CE/majap channel.

On a year-over-year basis, November
sales slipped 3.4 percent from 2008, although the rate of decline eased from a
5.5 percent drop in October, the Census Bureau reported.

Total retail sales, excluding restaurants and auto dealerships,
grew 2.2 percent in November year over year.

In a research note, Credit Suisse retail analyst Gary Balter said
the Census Bureau report “confirmed the positive data points from early in the
month that suggested a strong start to the holiday in the CE category and good
finish to the November quarter.”

Rosalind Wells, chief economist of the National Retail Federation
(NRF), said lean inventories and compelling promotions helped drive November
traffic. “Unlike last year, when the economic downturn caught everyone
off-guard, retailers were able to plan ahead this holiday season with an eagle
eye on low inventory and aggressive discounts,” she noted.

But while retailers are encouraged to see momentum building in
sales as they prepare for the final ten days before Christmas, and November
sales were encouraging, “Companies know that the holiday season is far from
over and expect this year to come down to its usual photo finish,” Wells said.