Retail sales rose for a fifth straight month in November, as the biggest jump in department store sales in two years gave the holiday shopping season a strong start.
The Commerce Department says retail sales increased 0.8 percent last month. That came after a 1.7 percent gain in October, which was propelled by a huge increase in auto sales.
Auto sales retreated a bit in November. But excluding autos, sales rose 1.2 percent - the best showing since last March.
Department store sales jumped 2.8 percent, the strongest advance in two years.