By Jay Keller
Despite the negative effects of Hurricane Sandy, which closed many stores and businesses in N.Y and N.J., overall sales for November were $412.4 billion, an increase of 0.3 percent over October 2012, the Census Bureau said Thursday. Total sales also rose 3.7 percent over levels recorded in November 2011.
Online retailers in November of 2012 recorded a year-over-year increase of 11 percent. Other winners include sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores where sales rose seven percent when compared to November 2011 sales.
Retail and food services sales for three-month period between September and October also increased when compared to the same period last year, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
“Core” retail sales rose 0.5 percent during the month after being essentially unchanged in October. This measure is widely used by economists as it excludes volatile sales at car dealers, building supply stores and gas stations.
Automobile dealers also saw sales increase 1.6 percent in November mostly due to Hurricane Sandy for owners looking to replaced damaged cars or end-of-month buyers whose plans were put on hold due to the arrival of the storm.
The government estimates can’t isolate the effect of Hurricane Sandy on the advance monthly report since the sample is designated to measure activity on the national level and not at specific geographic regions.
“Even though we cannot isolate the effect, we did receive indications from the companies that the hurricane had both positive and negative effects on the retail sales data,” the Census Bureau said Thursday.
Some firms reported a drop in sales due to permanent or temporary store closures. Other stores reported having reduced business due to damage, fewer customers and/ or lack of employees.
On the other hand, some firms reported sales increases due to significant sales of supplies for the affected areas and evacuees purchasing retail and food services in different geographic locales.
The figures released on Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau are adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences but not for price changes.