November retail sales surge by the biggest amount in 6 months

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Consumers have been streaming into shopping malls, despite concerns about the health of economy.

The Commerce Department reports that retail sales surged by 1.2 percent last month, double the gain that economists had expected. It's the largest increase since a 1.6 percent jump last May, and follows an October gain of just two-tenths of a percent.

Half of the November increase came from a big jump in gasoline pump prices, and therefore is not seen as a sign of strength in consumer demand.

Even excluding gasoline, retail sales would have been up by a still solid six-tenths of a percent. There were widespread gains across a number of other areas from department stores to appliance and furniture stores.

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