The late Thanksgiving and Black Friday weighed on November retail sales — but the calendar shift didn’t explain away continued weakness at department stores and apparel and accessories specialty stores.
October retail and food service sales rose 3.3 percent from a year earlier — and inched up just 0.2 percent from October on a seasonally adjusted basis, less than half 0.5 percent growth rate economists projected.
Year-over-year department store sales dropped 7.2 percent while the specialty stores fell 3.3 percent.
The report makes it painfully clear just where those sales are going. Non-store retailers — a category that’s dominated by Amazon, but also includes traditional retail’s e-commerce efforts — saw November sales jump 11.5 percent year-over-year.
For the year so far, the non-store retail category’s take, at $686 billion, is bigger than that of all the department stores and supercenters in the general merchandise stores category, with sales of $635 billion.
The overall bullish view of the holiday season seems to have survived the weak November.
Mickey Chadha, vice president at debt watchdog Moody’s Investors Service, said: “We continue to expect that strong consumer confidence, wage growth, low unemployment and the strong macro-economic environment in the U.S. will result in 2019 retail sales growth of over 3.5 percent, led by e-commerce players like Amazon; off-price retailers like TJX and Ross; value and convenience-oriented retailers like Dollar General and Dollar Tree; and discounters and warehouse clubs like Walmart and Target.”
And the National Retail Federation’s chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said: “These numbers are more about the calendar than consumer confidence. Consumer spending has been solid, and there’s still a lot of spending to be done. With strong employment and higher wages, we’re on track for a strong holiday season.”