November dip in auto, fuel sales slows US retail sector

18th December, 2018 12:23:01 printer

WASHINGTON: US sales of autos and gasoline slowed last month, weighing on the retail sector as the crucial year-end shopping period got under way, government data showed Friday.

But details within the monthly Commerce Department report showed Americans continued strong spending on other, less volatile goods and services, pointing to sustained momentum in consumer spending in the final quarter of the year, reports AFP.

Total retail sales slowed sharply for November, rising 0.2 percent to $513.5 billion, compared to October's brisk 1.1 percent gain.

The November increase matched analyst expectations. Analysts say the consumer boost from last year's tax cuts may fade in the coming months but the November data showed this October's rebound had been partly driven by recovery efforts from the summer's natural disasters, likely including the replacement of damaged vehicles.

November sales of gasoline fell 2.3 percent, their biggest drop in 18 months, while sales of cars and trucks slowed sharply to a 0.2 percent increase, down from October's 1.5 percent increase.

Excluding the volatile auto sector, sales also rose 0.2 percent, though this fell short of economists' forecasts. When both autos and gasoline are excluded, sales rose by a stronger 0.5 percent, building on October's gains.

With holiday consumers plunking down cash for the year-end splurge, sales of furniture, electronics and appliances, health and beauty goods and services, sporting goods and books all rose.