U.S. Retail Sales Down 1.9% in December -- Update
By Gabriel T. Rubin
U.S. retail sales dropped by 1.9% in December as Omicron and
inflation surged, damping the end of the holiday shopping
December's sharp decline followed record-level retail sales that
started with a 1.8% gain in October from the prior month. Sales at
retail stores, online and restaurants grew 16.9% in December when
compared with the same month a year ago, the Commerce Department
said on Friday.
Many holiday shoppers heeded warnings about shipping delays,
pushing a large share of the season's usual gains earlier in the
year. Sales were down broadly across spending categories in
December, with online sales dropping sharply by 8.7%.
Electronics stores declined by 2.9% over the previous month in
December, while furniture and home stores dropped by 5.5%.
Restaurant and bar sales dropped by 0.8%. Auto dealers saw a
decline of 0.7%.
Retail sales are adjusted for seasonal variations, but are not
adjusted for inflation, so the increases of the past year are
dampened by historically high inflation. The consumer price index,
a primary measurement of inflation, rose to 7% in December from a
year earlier, the highest level since 1982.
The robust annual growth for 2021, despite the December decline,
is a reflection of the torrent of consumer spending that has
followed in the wake of depressed sales the prior year during the
worst economic period of the Covid-19 pandemic. Retail businesses
aren't likely to see the same pace of growth this year, economists
say. Consumer savings has come down from high levels, and the
Omicron variant is creating fresh disruptions and keeping patrons
away from restaurants and bars.
Write to Gabriel T. Rubin at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 14, 2022 09:16 ET (14:16 GMT)
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