U.S. Retail Sales Slumped in December

U.S. retailers and restaurants made $677.1 billion in sales in December, down 1.1 percent from a revised November sales total of $685 billion, according to the Census Bureau. It was the second consecutive monthly decline in retail sales, which are adjusted for seasonal shifts but not inflation.

“The final retail sales report of 2022 was the weakest of the year,” Kayla Brunn, an economic analyst at Morning Consult, wrote in a Wednesday analysis.

When adjusted for inflation, “retail sales declined year-over-year – a development that is especially disappointing given that last December was being impacted by the spread of the omicron variant,” Brunn wrote.

The steady drop of gasoline prices in December drove part of the overall slump in retail sales last month. Sales at gasoline stations fell 4.6 percent last month even amid the rush of holiday travel, as lower global demand and easing energy supply constraints helped bring down prices at the pump.

Department stores also took a serious hit last month despite the promise of the holiday shopping season, with sales plunging 6.6 percent. Sales at furniture and home goods stores, auto dealers, clothing stores, electronics and appliance stores, and restaurants also fell in December.

Only sporting goods and hobby stores, building material and supply stores, and grocery stores saw sales increase in December.