Washington - Sales at CE and appliance stores rose less than 1 percent in November according to the U.S. Commerce Department's monthly retail sales report.
Sector sales edged up 0.9 percent year over year, but slipped 0.6 percent from October, making it the second weakest-performing specialty channel before home furnishings.
The results partly reflect lower same-store sales at Best Buy, which is weighted heavily in the Commerce Department data. Figures were adjusted for calendar variations but not for changes in price.
In contrast, total retail sales excluding restaurants, gas stations and car dealerships rose 6.8 percent unadjusted over last year, led by strong gains in the sporting goods, hobby, book and music, apparel and department store sectors.
The solid overall results, plus improvement in a variety of economic indicators including stock market gains, recent income growth, and savings built up during the recession, led the National Retail Federation (NRF) to up its holiday sales forecast from 2.3 percent to 3.3 for the months of November and December.
"The start to the holiday season has surpassed all expectations," said NRF president/CEO Matthew Shay. "While employment data is still a concern, we are starting to see improvement in other economic indicators that support an increase to our forecast."
NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said the November figures point to pent-up demand and increasing consumer confidence. "Consumers have not been suffering from a lack of spending power, they've just been missing the confidence to use it," he noted. "With noticeable improvement in key economic indicators combined with great deals on merchandise, consumers have certainly shown they shouldn't be counted out this holiday season."
Shay added that there needs to be a renewed focus on job creation in 2011 in order to sustain the momentum for retailers and the U.S. economy.