Holiday Sales Off to Strong Start

WASHINGTON — Retail sales rose more than expected in November, according to data released the U.S. Census Department Tuesday, pointing to stronger consumer spending in the holiday season.

WASHINGTON — Retail sales rose more than expected in November, according to data released the U.S. Census Department Tuesday, pointing to stronger consumer spending in the holiday season.

Retail sales, excluding auto-related businesses, were up 1.2% over the previous month and 6.7% over November of 2009.

"The start to the holiday season has surpassed all expectations," said Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer, National Retail Federation, which increased its forecast for holiday sales gains to 3.3%, from a previous projection of 2.3% gains. "While employment data is still a concern, we are starting to see improvement in other economic indicators that support an increase to our forecast. In order to sustain this momentum for retailers and the U.S. economy, there must be a renewed focus on jobs as we enter the new year."