Retail Sales Surge, Led by Autos, Gas - TheStreet

(Retail sales report updated with analyst commentary and stock price.)



) -- Retail sales rose more than expected in November, led up by autos and gasoline.

The Commerce Department said retail sales inched up 1.3% during the month, nearly twice as much as economists forecast. Wall Street predicted a 0.7% gain.

The news sent retail shares in the green, with the S&P Retail Index increasing 1% to 410.92 in morning trading. Some of the morning's biggest gainers include


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Charming Shoppes

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October sales were revised down to a 1.1% increase from a previously estimated 1.4% jump.

Sales of autos and auto parts grew 1.6% in November, while gasoline soared 6%. Excluding these numbers, retail sales advanced 0.6%.

Electronic and appliance stores posted a 2.8% boost, their biggest gain since the beginning of the year. Black Friday, the traditional start to the holiday shopping season, saw its biggest gains from big-box retailers like

Best Buy

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, which were highly promotional on consumer electronics like flat panel televisions.

Internet retailers also had a good showing, rising 1.2%. Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving in which retailers see a spike in online shopping, was especially robust this year. According to Coremetrics, a Web analytics firm,

online sales soared 14% on Cyber Monday

, boding well for retailers like


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One of the only weaknesses came from clothes stores, which fell 0.7%. This isn't surprising considering November's same-store sales results. Many retailers, including Macy's and

J.C. Penney

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reported disappointing comparable sales during the month.

"This isn't evidence of a turnaround," says Kevin Regan, senior managing director and retail industry expert at global advisory firm FTI Consulting. "There is nothing out there saying retailers are taking risks and are generating profit not through sales but margins."

Regan says these numbers do not give him any confidence that the economy will see even a modest holiday season, and he forecasts a 2% decline in sales.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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