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Holiday Shopping Boom Boosts Retail Sales

A shopper walks past a display of artificial Christmas trees at a JCPenney st...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: A shopper walks past a display of artificial Christmas trees at a JCPenney store in Seattle, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017.

American shoppers binged on holiday sales last month, leading to major gains among online retailers, electronics stores and furniture stores.

New numbers released by the Commerce Department Thursday show retail and restaurant sales jumped 0.8 percent in November from the previous month.

Online shopping rose 2.5 percent. Sales were up at electronics stores by 2.1 percent and by 1.2 percent at furniture stores.

Retail experts predict consumers' willingness to splurge may give the U.S. economy a boost in the final three months of 2017.

KPBS spoke to San Diego State University marketing lecturer Miro Copic about this year’s holiday shopping trends. This is a partial transcript of the interview.

Q: Will this be a good year for retailers?

A: This is going to be a great year for retailers, both online retailers and traditional retailers. It's probably one of the biggest growth years in the last five years.

Q: What’s fueling the growth?

A: Well at the macro level, it's increased wages for the last two years in a row. So people have income, really low unemployment and for those who have money in the stock market, their portfolios are up. So there's a lot of discretionary spending by consumers.

Q: What are people buying?

A: In general, during the holidays, people buying apparel is number one. They buy gift

cards for friends and family. It's an easy gift choice. Electronics, toys, CDs, DVDs, those kinds of things. Then lastly, in a category that's really important during the holidays, is jewelry.

Q: Has there been a spending boom on electronics in the last few years?

A: Electronics tends to stay pretty much consistent as a percentage of total spending, but what people are spending on is fairly radically different. In addition to televisions, which has always been the big driver, 2-in-1 PCs. They can function both as a tablet and a computer. Wearables is a big category. So your Fitbits and personal assistants.

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