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December Retail Sales Sluggish

Figures reflect a slide into recession, economist says.

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iStock, zhudifeng
iStock, zhudifeng

U.S. retail and food services sales for December 2022 were $677.1 billion, down 1.1 percent from the previous month, but up 6 percent from December 2021, according to the latest report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The bureau also found that retail sales for 2022 were up 9.2 percent from 2021.

“Even when adjusting for inflation, which was roughly flat month-over-month in December, sales dropped,” Principal Economist Eric Lundh of the nonprofit think-tank The Conference Board wrote in his analysis of the bureau’s figures. “Looking ahead, we expect consumer spending to continue to contract as the U.S. economy slips into recession early this year.”

As we’ve noted before, there have been a number of mixed signals on whether or not the U.S. is actually transitioning into a recession, but the question remains a hot topic for economists.

Lundh noted that the board’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) forecast for the fourth quarter “is consistent with this weaker data. We assume that overall real consumer spending will contract by 0.5 percent month-over-month in December versus the contraction of 1.1 percent in real retail sales.”

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