U.S. Retail Sales Disappoint

The optimism surrounding the outlook for U.S. consumers was taken down a notch as retail sales slumped in December by the most in almost a year, prompting some economists to lower spending and growth forecasts.

The 0.9 percent decline in purchases followed a 0.4 percent advance in November that was smaller than previously estimated, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Last month’s decrease extended beyond any single group as receipts fell in nine of 13 major retail categories.

While disappointing, the drop followed large-enough gains at the start of the quarter that signaled consumer spending accelerated from the previous three months as the job market strengthened and gasoline prices plunged. Continued improvement in hiring that sparks more wage growth will be needed to ensure customers at retailers such as Family Dollar Stores Inc. also thrive.


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