Retail Sales Ended 2020 On A Down Note, Fueling GDP Worries

January 19, 2021

U.S retail sales continued to slow in December, as surging COVID numbers and business restrictions kept consumers from spending. Retail sales fell 0.7% last month, according to the Commerce Department. That follows a 1.4% decline in November, which was revised downward from an initial 1.1% drop. Economists had expected retail sales to remain unchanged.

Stripping out volatile categories like gas and building supplies, retail sales were down 1.9% last month, a larger decline than the downwardly revised 1.1% drop in November. These “core” retail sales historically correspond with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product. Slowing sales, combined with December’s negative jobs numbers, have some economists worried that the economic rebound has slowed considerably in recent weeks, and that Q4’s GDP numbers may disappoint.

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