U.S. retail sales perked up in November with the start of the holiday shopping season, led by online buying and purchases of autos, clothing and electronics.
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The Commerce Department says retail sales rose a seasonally-adjusted 0.7 percent last month. Falling gasoline prices caused purchases at gas stations to decline 0.8 percent, but that potentially freed up income to be spent elsewhere.
Excluding gas stations, sales climbed a healthy 0.9 percent. Spending on motor vehicles accelerated 1.7 percent, while purchases at clothiers, online retailers, electronics stores and department stores all improved.
The sales figures indicate that consumers have pumped up their holiday shopping, despite initial signs within the retail industry that Black Friday shopping plunged compared to the previous year.
Sales are up 5.1 percent over the past 12 months.