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    Holiday Shoppers Cause Retail Sales Increase

    For the month of November sales are up one percent, exceeding economists' meager forecasts.

    Retail sales in the nation exceeded economists' forecasts for November, as early holiday shoppers took advantage of discounts, resulting in an increase in sales of 1 percent, reported Bloomberg News.

    The percent increase was the most since July, and follows a 0.1 percent decline in sales for the month of October, according to the Commerce Department. Excluding automobiles, retail sales increased 1.1 percent, the highest increase since January, the report stated.

    "Enticing promotions over Thanksgiving weekend helped retailers end the month with a bang," said National Retail Federation (NRF) chief economist Rosalind Wells. "While November sales exceeded expectations, retailers understand the holiday season is far from over." The NRF reported that its retail sales data showed a slightly smaller increase of 0.9 percent for the month of November.

    "The holiday season has taken off on solid footing," Richard DeKaser, chief economist at National City Corp., told Bloomberg News. The condition of consumers "is far better than generally perceived," he added.

    Deep discounts in the apparel and electronics categories sent consumers flocking to the stores, according to the NRF. Sales of high-end electronics such as plasma televisions and laptops helped November unadjusted retail sales at electronics and appliance stores increase 9 percent over last year, with a monthly gain of 4.6 percent, the NRF stated.

    Sales at gas stations rose 2.3 percent in November after a 5.3 percent fall in October. Average price per gallon for regular gasoline remained virtually unchanged between October and November, at $2.23 per gallon, the report stated.

    Wage gains and lower gas prices are giving consumers extra money for spending, which offset the decline in manufacturing and housing, the report said. In addition, a hold on interest rates by the Federal Reserve improves economic forecasts, as "the economy seems likely to expand at a moderate pace on balance," it stated.

    Economists expected retail sales to rise just 0.2 percent after a previous October estimate of a 0.4 percent decline, according to a Bloomberg News survey of more than 70 analysts. Even the highest estimates of a 0.6 percent rise were beaten.

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