Retail Sales in November Show Negative Growth for First Time Since May, Remain Higher than Last Year

by Alex Tostado

Washington, D.C. — Retail sales in November declined 1.1 percent compared to October of this year, the U.S. Commerce Department reported Wednesday. The monthly decline is the first dip since April, when sales plummeted 14.7 percent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. November sales totaled $546.5 billion, which was an increase of 4.1 percent from November 2019. Additionally, the three-month period from September 2020 to November was 5.2 percent higher than the same time period a year ago.

Month-over-month, motor vehicle and parts dealers, home furniture stores, electronics and appliances stores, clothing and accessories stores and sporting goods stores all reported decreased sales. The home improvement and food and beverage sectors grew 1.1 and 1.6 percent, respectively.

Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation (NRF), says the monthly decline is due to consumers holding steady amid rising COVID-19 cases and congressional gridlock.

“Consumers held back on spending in November as virus rates spiked, states imposed retail restrictions and congressional stimulus discussions were gridlocked,” says Shay. “While consumers have been bolstered by increases in disposable income and savings, it’s clear that additional fiscal stimulus from Congress is needed and we are hopeful it will be passed soon as we enter the final stretch of the holiday season.”

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