Retail sales in the U.S. declined sharply in December, indicating that the worst inflation in decades is hitting consumers harder than analysts expected.
Total retail sales dropped 1.9 percent in December, typically a month of robust holiday shopping, Commerce Department data showed Friday. The figures are not adjusted for inflation, suggesting that price-adjusted purchases were even weaker. The Consumer Price Index rose 0.5 percent in December.
The results were far worse than analysts expected. The median estimate by analysts was for sales to be flat to down just one-tenth of a percentage point.
Retail sales were better than expected in September and October, suggesting that concerns about inflation and shortages of goods may have pulled some shopping forward. Sales rose 0.8 percent