US retail sales rose 1.3% in November, according to the latest official data, offering some hope that shoppers are in spending mood as they head into the critical holiday shopping period.

Excluding vehicle and gasoline sales, retail spending was up 0.6%, the Commerce Department said.

But while general merchandise sales rose 0.8% and department stores sales lifted 0.7%, clothing and clothing accessories stores saw their sales drop by 0.7%.

One reason that apparel sales are weaker this year than in 2008 could be that shoppers are waiting until the last minute in an attempt to get more items at sale prices, separate research suggests.

The new Christmas Retail Survey from America's Research Group (ARG) and UBS found that consumers want discounts of as much as 60% to 70% in order to buy.

"The shopping season is a repeat of last year," says C Britt Beemer, CEO and founder of ARG.

"More shoppers are waiting for better deals and stores just aren't giving them big enough discounts."