U.S. Retail Sales Rose Modestly in November, Despite Inflation and COVID-19 Variants
Retail sales rose .3 percent in November, contributing to the fourth straight month of increases, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced Wednesday. The increase is significantly less than October, when retail sales rose 1.8 percent. Multiple news sources reported the increase fell well short of predictive models for November. Some of the highest spending in November was on groceries, alcohol, gas, clothing and home improvement, according to the Commerce Department's report.
"Consumers’ financial condition remains healthy and neither stubborn inflation nor COVID-19 appear to have derailed holiday spending despite both being top of mind," said National Retail Federation's (NRF) Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz, in a press release from the industry trade organization.
Total Retail's Take: The fact that spending hasn't dipped as we edge closer to the second anniversary of the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic is a good sign for retailers. The increased spending in November shows that shoppers are still going all out for the holiday season, and indicates that holiday shopping began earlier than normal, as has been pushed by retailers that are dealing with supply chain disruptions and out-of-stock issues.
Increased vaccination rates also may have contributed to November's increased retail sales. As NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said, consumers feel they can continue to shop safely and conveniently, despite the rise of the COVID-19 Omicron variant. Shay said he believes holiday sales this year could grow as much as 11.5 percent over 2020.