The lack of adjustment for price changes means that sometimes increases really are not good news -- most notably in the case of gas stations. Their sales surged 4.0% on the month, and are up 9.0% from a year ago. The increase in October was well above the increase of 1.3% in October.
Clearly that is mostly a function of higher gasoline prices. In recent weeks the price of oil has rallied, and so we will probably see gas station sales rise again sharply in the December report.
Grocery store sales rose 0.8% on top of a 0.6% increase in October. That could be a bit of an indication of food price inflation, but could also be a case of people getting a bit more confident and starting to buy brand-name products rather than generic store brands. Relative to last year, sales are up 3.2%.
Food price inflation has not been a big long-term problem, at least looking back over the last year. However, food commodity prices have been strong over the last few months, and it is something to keep an eye on going forward.Drug stores like Walgreen's (WAG) also had a pretty good month, with sales up 0.9%, accelerating from a rise of just 0.2% rise in October, and are up 5.0% year over year.