Small-Business Retail Sales Improve

Retail Sales Rose 4.5% Last Month

Small Business Retail Sales ImproveScore one for the little guys. American consumers spent 5.2% more at small-business retailers in November than they did during the same month last year, according to a report from MasterCard Advisors and Wells Fargo. Fueled by holiday shopping, the spending surge at small retailers outpaced the retail industry as a whole. Overall, retail sales rose 4.5% last month.

If you remove food services, automobiles and gasoline from consideration, the sales growth rate for small businesses was 7.3% in November, far better than the 4.4% year-over-year jump seen in October. While analysts said the growth was especially impressive in the face of challenges presented by Superstorm Sandy and the presidential election, the fact remains that November's 5.2% increase was below the 5.5% average rise of the last three months.

November's increase was not enough to reverse a trend of downward-headed monthly sales among small businesses, which has been occurring since February. That's concerning news, experts say, given that small retailers are such a vital part of the economy, accounting for more than $100 billion in monthly sales.

Still, analysts believe that small businesses will close 2012 with a strong showing. "While the uncertainty in Washington may eventually slow or reverse this growth, small retail businesses appear well-positioned to improve sales at the end of the year," said Marc Bernstein, head of small business for Wells Fargo, in an interview with the Associated Press.

MasterCard and Wells Fargo collect data for the SpendingPulse report from payments made through MasterCard as well as other types of payments, including cash and checks. The sales occurred at more than one million retail locations.