The Commerce Department reported Friday its advance estimate of seasonally adjusted U.S. retail and food services sales for the month of November. Sales at U.S. retailers fell for a fifth straight month in November, the first time that has happened going back to 1992. Sales peaked in June of fiscal ’08 at $384.1 billion, and have fallen off since.
The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for November, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $355.7 billion, a decrease of 1.8 percent from the previous month and 7.4 percent below November 2007. Total sales for the September through November 2008 period were down 4.5 percent from the same period a year ago. The September to October 2008 percent change was revised from -2.8 percent to -2.9 percent.
Retail trade sales were down 2.0 percent from October 2008 and were 8.5 percent below last year. Motor vehicle and parts dealers sales were down 25.2 percent from November 2007 and gasoline stations sales were down 22.0 percent from last year.
While retail sales are down to a level not seen since August ’07, the details of the report suggest that most major components of sales increased in November, including furniture & home furnishings, electronics & appliance, food & beverage, clothing, sporting goods and general merchandise. In addition, November’s ‘core’ sales increased 0.5%. It is the largest gain in six months.
The Advance Monthly Retail Sales for December is scheduled to be released January 14, 2009.
Separately: The mid-December reading of consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan came in at 59.1, up 6.9% from November. It is the highest level since September. The reading beat 55.1 consensus.