Business

Retail sales in December 2021:

Retail sales fell much more than expected in December as rising prices cut spending significantly, the Commerce Department said Friday.

The pre-monthly year-end sales report showed a 1.9% decline, significantly worse than the Dow Jones estimate of just 0.1%.

Excluding cars, sales fell 2.3%, also falling short of expectations for a 0.3% increase.

On top of weak December data, November growth was revised down to 0.2% from the originally reported 0.3% increase.

With sales data not adjusted for inflation, the data points to a slow end to what was otherwise a strong 2021, with sales up 16.9% from a pandemic-hit 2020.

A family of shoppers exits Walmart with a full shopping cart on November 26, 2021 in Westminster, Colorado.

Michael Siaglo | Getty Images

The consumer price index rose 0.5% for the month, resulting in an annual increase of 7%, the highest since June 1982. Wholesale prices also rose, up 9.7% over the 12-month period, the biggest increase in a calendar year. since the data was kept up to 2010.

Online spending took the biggest hit as a share of total spend, with non-store retailers reporting an 8.7% drop in a month. Sales of furniture and home goods fell 5.5%, while sales of sporting goods, music and books fell 4.3%.

The surge in omicron cases has wreaked havoc across the board as consumer activity wanes.

Restaurants and bars, which in 2021 showed an annual increase of 41.3% and are leading in all categories, decreased by 0.8% over the month. Gas stations came in second this year with 41% sales growth, but saw a 0.7% decline in December due to lower fuel prices. Gasoline prices fell 0.5% at the end of the year, when pit latrine prices rose 49.6%.

Only two categories showed growth in the month: retail stores of various goods, which grew by 1.8%, and building materials and gardening centers, which grew by 0.9%.

A separate Labor Department report on Friday showed that import prices fell 0.2% on the month against expectations of a 0.2% rise, the first negative reading since August and largely due to a 6.5% drop in imported fuel prices. %.

That number offered some hope that the inflation surge might ease, although most of the move was due to falling oil prices.

Federal Reserve officials have stressed the importance of curbing inflation in recent days, with many politicians saying they expect to start raising interest rates as early as March. The Biden administration has joined central bank leaders in blaming much of the blame for rising prices on pandemic-specific factors such as huge demand for goods rather than services and supply chain problems.

However, the jump in prices came after an unprecedented level of cash injections into the economy from both fiscal and monetary policy.


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