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November Dip Continued Rocky Ride for Clothing and Footwear Spending

Consumer spending on clothing and footwear dipped 0.3 percent in November from the previous month, continuing an up-and-down cycle in the sector, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) revealed Friday in its monthly report.

This followed an uptick in October that came after two straight months of declines in spending in the category. It also followed the monthly retail sales report for November in which clothing and clothing accessories store sales were down 2.9 percent year-over-year and 0.6 percent month-over-month, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

All retail sales, exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, in November increased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted over October and were up 2.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

“November showed modest growth on the surface, but you have to remember that the late timing of Thanksgiving delayed the beginning of the busiest portion of the holiday season and pushed Cyber Monday’s billions of dollars of retail sales into December,” Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at the National Retail Federation, said. “These numbers are more about the calendar than consumer confidence. Consumer spending has been solid, and there’s still a lot of spending to be done.”

The BEA report showed overall personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased 0.4 percent, or $64.9 billion, in November. Real PCE, adjusted for inflation, rose 0.3 percent, or $37.8 billion, reflecting an increase of $22.6 billion in spending for goods and a $17.1 billion increase in spending for services. Within goods, spending on new motor vehicles was the leading contributor.

The PCE price index increased 0.2 percent, with the core index excluding food and energy, up 0.1 percent.

Personal income increased 0.5 percent, or $101.7 billion, in the month as disposable personal income (DPI), a key barometer for retail sales, was up 0.5 percent, or $87.7 billion, BEA reported. The increase in personal income in November primarily reflected increases in compensation of employees, farm proprietors’ income and personal interest income.

Real DPI increased 0.4 percent in the month.

Personal outlays increased $68.6 billion in November, while personal saving was $1.31 trillion in November. The personal saving rate–personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income–was 7.9 percent.