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WASHINGTON - U.S. retail and food service sales saw a better-than-expected 0.9 percent increase to in November, the Commerce Department said today. That good news was tempered by a separate report released last week by the Labor Department, saying that first-time claims for unemployment benefits rose in the week ended Dec. 6, to 378,000.
Advance estimates of retail and food service sales for November, adjusted for seasonal, holiday, and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $322.4 billion.
Within the retail sales report, purchases at electronics and appliance stores gained 2.2 percent and sales at gasoline stations rose 1.6 percent. However, department stores sales slipped by 1.1 percent. Sales at grocery stores were $38.3 billion, a slight decrease from October sales.