The slump in retail sales continued with the start of the holiday season as November purchases were down from a year earlier.

This was the 16th straight month that sales were down compared with the previous year. But for the second consecutive month, the decline was less steep than during the spring and summer, according to figures provided by the Maine Bureau of Revenue Services.

Overall retail sales in the Camden and Rockland markets (which include all of Knox County as well as the adjacent Waldo County towns of Lincolnville and Islesboro) totaled $28.2 million in November. This was 2 percent less ($665,000) than the $28.8 million that retailers received in November 2008.

Statewide, the decline was less than 1 percent with total November sales of $1.044 billion.

The decline in retail sales locally occurred in most categories. The exceptions were in motor vehicle sales and sales of taxable items at food stores.

The largest category of sales in the Rockland and Camden markets during November was building supplies, which recorded $7.2 million in income, a drop of 6 percent compared with a year ago.

General merchandise sales at department stores fell 9 percent to $5.9 million.

Motor vehicle sales jumped 14 percent, reaching $4.4 million.

Sales of taxable items at food stores rose 3 percent to $3.7 million. Most food is exempt from the state’s sales tax and not included in the reports.

Restaurants saw sales drop 5 percent to $3.5 million.

A miscellaneous category of stores that includes antiques shops, gift shops, jewelers, sporting goods stores, and pharmacies saw sales drop 2 percent to $2.8 million.

Lodging businesses saw sales drop 7 percent to $677,000.

The overall November retail sales in the Rockland and Camden markets were down 11 percent from the November record of $31.8 million set in 2007.

The last time retail sales for a month in the local area were up from a year earlier was in July 2008 when they rose 1 percent from 2007. Sales were down 14 percent in July 2009.

Lincoln County

Overall retail sales in Lincoln County were down 1 percent from a year ago with income totaling $14.6 million during November.

Motor vehicle sales totaled $3.3 million, down 1 percent.

Building supply sales were down 6 percent to $3.3 million.

Taxable sales at food stores rose 3 percent to $3.1 million.

Restaurant sales were down 2 percent to $1.7 million.

Sales for the group of stores that includes antiques and gift shops rose 6 percent to $1.5 million.

Department store sales rose 6 percent to $1.3 million.

Lodging businesses saw sales rise about 30 percent to $226,000.

Other markets

Sales in other regions of Maine in November were:

* Augusta $67 million, down 1 percent.

* Bangor $118 million, up 1 percent.

* Bar Harbor $5 million, down 8 percent.

* Belfast $10 million, down 5 percent.

* Brunswick $44 million, down 1 percent.

* Kittery $34 million, down 6 percent.

* Lewiston $62 million, down 6 percent.

* Portland $156 million, down 4 percent.