U.S. businesses stockpiled more goods in warehouses and on store shelves in November as sales improved slightly.
The Commerce Department says business inventories rose a seasonally adjusted 0.7 percent in November, with strong gains among auto dealers, building materials stores and wholesalers. Sales edged up just 0.1 percent with the increase coming almost entirely from wholesalers.
Department stores saw their inventories and sales decline between November and October, part of a broader long-term slowdown as shoppers move to online retailers.
But auto dealers bulked up their inventories of vehicles by 1.9 percent in November ahead of year-end sales. Clothiers and building materials stores also increased their stockpiles.
Manufacturers boosted their inventories 0.2 percent in November, but their sales slipped 0.1 percent