PROTECTING RETAILERS AND A LIFESTYLE

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Commerce Department Reports On November Retail Sales

The Commerce Department reported that retail sales declined 1.8% in November, the fifth straight monthly drop, although the extent of the decline was exaggerated by the fall of gasoline prices. Nevertheless, actual job losses and fears of jobs losses have caused consumers to rein in spending, cut back on debt and get their financial houses in order. This means tough times for retailers, who must cut back on their own expenses, until enough consumers are confident enough to spend again. Sales at gasoline stations plunged 14.7%, which reflected a big decline in prices at the pump. Excluding gasoline sales, retail sales were down a more modest 0.2% in November. Take out gasoline and auto sales, and retail sales actually grew 0.3%. In addition, sales at department stores and general merchandise stores grew 1.2% in November, which likely reflects the performance of discounters and warehouse clubs like Wal-Mart and BJ’s Wholesale Club.