NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Retail sales were solidly higher in November, the government reported Thursday, fueled in part by deep discounting on holiday merchandise.
The Commerce Department said total retail sales rose 0.8% last month.
Economists surveyed by Briefing.com on average had forecast an increase of 0.5% for November.
Sales excluding autos and auto parts rose 1.2%. Economists had forecast a rise of 0.6% in the measure for November, according to Briefing.com.
November's gain marked the fifth straight monthly gain in the measure, an encouraging sign that, despite a tight job market, consumers are becoming more comfortable with spending on discretionary purchases.
For retailers, November also marks the start of the year-end holiday shopping frenzy. Combined sales in November and December can account for as much as 50% of merchants' sales and profits for the full year.
Holiday sales this year got off to a robust start. Earlier this month, many large store chains also reported much better-than-expected monthly sales at their stores.
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