) -- Retail sales gained 0.8% in November, better than analysts expected.

The Commerce Department said excluding autos, sales rose 1.2%. Economists were forecasting a 0.6% in total retail sales and 0.7% increase excluding autos.

The increase marks the fifth consecutive month retailers reported sales gains.

Sales for October were also revised up to 1.7% from a previously reported 1.2% uptick.

Overall, eight out of the 13 categories reported gains during the month. General merchandise stores, which include behemoths like


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, gained 1.3%, the most since October 2009. Online sales jumped 2.1%, clothing and accessory stores advanced 2.7% and sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores rose by 2.3%.

--Written by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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