The National Retail Federation said advance estimates of November retail sales affirmed its holiday spending forecast, which anticipates an increase of 4.1 percent over last year.

Not including automobiles, gasoline stations or restaurants, retail sales increased 0.6 percent seasonally-adjusted over October and 3.2 percent unadjusted over November 2013, according to advance estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The agency will adjust the estimate two more times as more data comes in over the coming months.

As weve said all along, retailers are optimistic that they will see healthy holiday sales gains this year, NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. November sales results confirm that optimism, and we are steadfast in our belief that we are on track to reach the 4.1 percent growth in holiday sales that NRF forecasted in October.

Consumer trends show that the shopping experience continues to evolve for both retailers and consumers, Shay said. Shoppers this holiday season are seizing opportunities to take advantage of early promotions and showing signs they may wait until the end of the season when promotions are even greater.

It is important to remember that for most retailers, the holiday season is a marathon, not a sprint, and there are plenty of important holiday shopping days ahead of us, including the week leading up to Super Saturday-the day many expect will be the biggest shopping day of the season, Shay said.

Increasing wages combined with lower gas prices are providing retailers with an early holiday present this year, NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. Every economic indicator is pointing toward a strong holiday season. Healthy November sales should provide momentum for an even stronger December as customers continue to seek out deals all the way to Christmas.

NRF’s analysis of Census data found that:

  • Sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores:

        +0.3% month-to-month
        +1.3% year-over-year

  • Clothing and clothing accessories stores:

        +1.2% month-to-month
        +2.5% year-over-year

  • Electronics and appliance stores:

        +0.9% month-to-month
        +6.1% year-over-year

  • General merchandise stores:

        +0.5% month-to-month
        +2.3% year-over-year

  • Online and other nonstore retailers:

        +1.0% month-to-month
        +6.3% year-over-year