Retail Sales Rise for 5th Straight Month Low inflation, big discounts bring customers to stores By Newser Editors and Wire Services Posted Dec 14, 2010 9:07 AM CST 4 comments Comments In this Nov. 26, 2010 photo, shoppers take advantage of sales while shopping at the Pentagon City Mall in Arlington, Va. (Susan Walsh) (Newser) – 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. Retail sales increased 0.8% last month, the Commerce Department announced today, beating analyst predictions of a 0.5% increase, according to the Wall Street Journal. That came after a 1.7% 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%—the best showing since last March. Department store sales jumped 2.8%, the strongest advance in two years. Analysts said that heavy holiday discounting, which started as early as October, and an improving economy were helping to boost spending. Even the weather played a part, with a November chill driving up sales of coats and other cold-weather gear.