US retail sales fell in December. This is the worst drop in nine years. The value of overall sales fell 1.2 per cent from the prior month. Excluding automobiles and gasoline, retail sales slumped 1.4 per cent. The steep drop however is at odds with figures showing a healthy job market and steady wage gains. The slump also may prove temporary as stocks have regained ground following December’s plunge.
All but two of 13 major retail categories showed a decline, with non-store retailers — which includes online stores — falling 3.9 per cent, the most since November 2008. The broad-based weakening reflected lower sales from clothing stores and gasoline stations. Auto dealers and building materials stores were the only sectors to record increases.
Receipts at health and personal care stores fell two per cent, the most since October 2016. Sales at sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and book stores tumbled 4.9 per cent, the biggest drop since September 2008.