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Clothing and Footwear Spending Rise in November on Holiday Buying Spree

As the holiday purchasing push got going in earnest, consumer spending on clothing and footwear benefited.

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) on clothing and footwear increased 1.5 percent to $429.38 billion in November compared to the previous month, according to Friday’s report from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). It was the second consecutive spending gain after a dip in September.

This outpaced the overall national PCE, which rose 0.4 percent, or $54.4 billion, in the month. Real PCE, adjusted for inflation, increased 0.3 percent, while the PCE price index rose 0.1 percent.

Personal income was up 0.2 percent, or $40.2 billion in the month, while disposable personal income (DPI), a key barometer for retail sales potential, increased 0.2 percent, $37.8 billion. Real DPI, adjusted for inflation, increased 0.2 percent in November.

Clothing and accessories stores slowed 0.2 percent in November, after a 0.5 percent pickup from September to October, the Commerce Department reported last week. The channel reached $23.23 billion in sales, a 4.1 percent increase over the prior-year period. Department stores achieved a 0.4 percent gain for the month, but was still 0.2 percent below a year earlier.

BEA said the increase in personal income in November primarily reflected increases in wages and salaries, and in farm proprietors’ income that were partially offset by decreases in personal dividend income and social security benefits. Farm proprietors’ income increased $14.9 billion in November, which included subsidy payments, including for cotton growers, associated with the Department of Agriculture’s Market Facilitation Program.

The $42.5 billion increase in real PCE in November reflected an increase of $32.6 billion in spending for goods and a $13.2 billion increase in spending for service. Within goods, recreational goods and vehicles was the leading contributor to the increase. Within services, the largest contributor to the increase was spending for household electricity and gas.

Personal outlays increased $56.6 billion in November. Personal saving was $944.2 billion in November and the personal saving rate, personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income, was 6 percent.