Dec 14, 2023 - Business

Consumer spending rebounded in November as holiday shopping season kicked off

People shop at a Macy's store in Herald Square in New York City. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Consumer spending bounced back in November: Retail sales increased 0.3% after declining the prior month, the Commerce Department said on Thursday.

Why it matters: The holiday shopping season is off to a strong start as American consumers continue to open their wallets — an important sign that the economy is still humming along.

  • The data topped economists' expectations that saw retail sales declining in November.
  • Revised October data was slightly weaker than initially thought: Spending fell by 0.2%, not the originally estimated 0.1% decline.

The big picture: The retail sales data, which is not adjusted for inflation, show consumers upped spending at bars and restaurants, sporting goods and book shops and online retailers.

  • Spending at gasoline stations fell by nearly 3%, likely due to falling prices at the pump.
  • Excluding sales at gas stations, overall retail sales were even stronger in November: rising by 0.6%.

Of note: Spending also eased at department stores, electronics and appliance shops and other miscellaneous store retailers.

The bottom line: The American consumer continues to surprise to the upside.

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