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November Retail Sales Rise Inflated by Gas

According to the Commerce Department, November retail and food sales increased 1.5 percent from October and were 2.1 percent below September 2008.

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 $352.1 billion, an increase of 1.3 percent (±0.5%) from the previous month and 1.9 percent (±0.5%) above November 2008. Total sales for the September through November 2009 period were down 2.1 percent (±0.3%) from the same period a year ago. The September to October 2009 percent change was revised from +1.4 percent (±0.5%) to +1.1 percent (±0.2%).

Retail trade sales were up 1.4 percent (±0.5%) from October 2009 and 2.2 percent (±0.5%) above last year. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were down 9.3 percent (±1.8%) from November 2008, but gasoline stations sales were up 8.9% (±1.3%) from last year.

However, don't pop the champagne corks just yet. As Business Insider points out, a big part of the gain was a jump in gasoline sales.

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Calculated Risk's take is here. On the positive side, at least consumer sentiment took a big jump in the most recent Reuters/University of Michigan index. The consumer sentiment index rose to 73.4 in early December from 67.4 in November. Calculated Risk's retail sales chart and consumer index chart are below.

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