Retail Sales Rise Slightly in November

But the total increase is underwhelming compared to previous gains
By Nicholas Dolinger
Nicholas Dolinger
Nicholas Dolinger
Nicholas Dolinger is a business reporter for The Epoch Times and creator of "The Beautiful Toilet" podcast.
December 18, 2021 Updated: December 19, 2021

Retail sales rose for the fourth consecutive month in November, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau released on Dec. 15.

Sales at U.S. retail stores, online sellers, and restaurants rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent last month, a fraction of October’s growth of 1.8 percent and a considerable dip from the typical annual rise in sales for the month of November. This slackening of growth is attributable to a number of factors, namely the early onset of this year’s Christmas shopping season, rising costs of consumer goods, and persistent fears concerning the Omicron variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

“Retail sales growth slowed considerably in November. I see this more as a sign that Americans started their holiday shopping early, as opposed to bad news for retailers,” Bankrate senior industry analyst Ted Rossman said in an emailed statement to The Epoch Times. “Even though November 2021 sales were only up 0.3 percent from October 2021, they were up 18.2 percent from November 2020. That year-over-year comparison is more significant, and it illustrates robust expansion.”

Indeed, retail has faced an uphill battle sustaining autumn’s early growth. On Dec. 17, the U.S. Labor Department reported that consumer prices rose by 6.8 percent in the 12 months ending in November—the highest increase for any 12-month period since 1982. As inflation continues to exacerbate high consumer prices, the retail industry must fight against the current in order to maintain its high sales figures, as it has in the past several months.

In addition, the continued proliferation of the Omicron variant may have dissuaded shoppers from visiting brick and mortar stores, further contributing to the deceleration of sales. Omicron currently constitutes almost 3 percent of total CCP virus cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and fears of contagion may be responsible for keeping some customers home during the Christmas shopping season.

“Month-over-month growth was hard to come by in November—again, partly because the holiday shopping season got off to a roaring start in October, but also perhaps due to inflation concerns,” Rossman said. “We are seeing some signs that inflation and supply chain woes may have held November sales back a bit, and those issues didn’t show up as much in October.”

Nicholas Dolinger is a business reporter for The Epoch Times and creator of "The Beautiful Toilet" podcast.