November sales data raised retailers' spirits Monday, as the government reported better results than expected after the holiday season had so far been viewed with some disappointment.
The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.1% for the month, beating economists' expectations for no growth in November. Despite the upside in the report, the figure is still down from the 0.8% gain recorded in October.
Excluding autos, sales rose 0.5%, beating expectations for a 0.3% uptick but still lower than the 1.1% jump logged on October.
Gasoline sales added 0.1%, after rising 0.5% in October. Shoppers also purchased electronics, building materials and groceries, among other things.
Earlier in December, individual retailers had posted monthly results for November that were largely below expectations, causing concerns on Wall Street about the strength of consumer spending heading into a holiday shopping season that is crucial for the survival of retail businesses and the overall health of the economy.
Consumer spending accounts for roughly two-thirds of all economic activity in the U.S. While heavy shopping has long been a mainstay for the overall economy, market watchers have expressed increasing concerns about the sustainability of this trend in light of high-debt levels, rising interest rates, high energy prices, slow wage growth and a sluggish job market.