Retail sales edge up 0.2% in November, below forecasts

New York City -- Retail sales rose 0.2% in November, following a 0.6% advance in October that was more than initially reported, according to figures released Tuesday by the Commerce Department in Washington. The November increase was the slightest gain in five months. Economists projected a 0.6% November increase, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey. Purchases excluding automobiles also rose 0.2%.

"Sales are growing, but they just aren't accelerating," said Ryan Wang, an economist at HSBC Securities USA Inc. in New York, in a Bloomberg report."There have been some real slight hints of improvement in the labor market, but until we get sustained growth in income, spending is going to be moderate."

Seven of 13 major categories showed gains last month, led by a 2.1% jump at electronics and appliance stores. Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores increased 0.5%. On the down side, sales at food and beverage stores fell 0.2% in November.