Retail sales rise for sixth straight month, so what are the hot gifts?

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – The holiday shopping season started off strong, as the U.S. Department of Commerce reports an increase in retail sales for the sixth straight month.

The Commerce Department found that retail sales rose 0.2 percent in November. The modest gain was lower than October's, which was revised to show a 0.6 percent increase.

Sales increased at electronics and appliance stores, auto dealers, clothing stores and department stores. Best Buy in Jonesboro has seen a steady stream of customers since Black Friday, and associates say many have electronics at the top of their wish lists this year.

"I'm trying to get finished today, hopefully I can," Debra Webb said.

Webb started her holiday shopping early this year, but she tried to cap off her list Tuesday at Best Buy. She has already purchased several electronics items, as her family's requests have gone digital.

"You can give something to a little kid. I don't know how to operate it, and they can show me what to do. They're just very popular," she said.

Electronics sales helped boost the beginning of the holiday shopping season. The Commerce Department estimated modest retail growth in November despite Americans spending a record amount during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. According to the National Retail Federation, shoppers spent more than $52 billion during the Black Friday weekend.

"This holiday season has been good for us so far," said Jordon Gist, a supervisor at Best Buy.

Gist expects two items to be under many trees this year. Televisions and tablets have been the store's best sellers.

"It's difficult to keep everything that people want in stock. Sometimes things just go so fast," Gist said. "The Kindle Fire's been huge for us. Of course iPads have continued to be a huge, huge seller."

Best Buy moves touch screen tablets so quickly that Gist says the store has barely been able to keep them in stock.

"It's been difficult to make sure that everybody gets what they need as quickly as possible. That's what everybody wants, so we're trying to get them out here as quickly as we can," Gist said.

Economists point to rising retail sales as a sign that the economy is growing slowly but steadily. Consumer spending has rebounded since the summer, but the Commerce Department says the retail sales growth in November was the weakest in any month since June.

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