U.S. Retail Sales Inch Up

Retail sales proved pale last month south of the border, according to figures released Friday morning by the U.S. Commerce Department.

Retail sales increased a slight 0.2% in November, as strong sales tied to holiday shopping were offset by lower gasoline prices.

The Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales have climbed a solid 5.3% so far this year. In November, non-store retail sales — a category that includes Internet brands such as Amazon — jumped 2.3%. Furnishing stores, electronics stores and health stores also enjoyed a solid bump as the holiday shopping season got into full swing.

But some of that sales growth was hampered by gas stations, which saw a 2.3% drop in purchases last month. Higher gas prices in October, along with increased auto-buying, had helped propel broader retail sales gains of 1.1% during that month. Excluding gas, November retail sales rose a healthy 0.5%.