US Retail Sales Post Biggest Drop in Over 9 Years

US retail trade fell by 1.2 percent from a month earlier in December 2018, following a revised 0.1 percent growth in November and missing market expectations of 0.2 percent gain. It was the steepest decline in retail sales since September 2009.

11 of 13 major retail categories showed month-over-month decreases.

Receipts at gasoline stations tumbled 5.1 percent (vs -4.4 percent in November), the largest fall since February 2016, amid cheaper gasoline prices. Also, sales at hobby, musical instrument & book stores dropped 4.9 percent (vs -1.4 percent in November), the biggest drop since September 2008, and those at miscellaneous store retailers were 4.1 percent lower (vs 4 percent in November). In addition, online and mail-order retail sales slumped 3.9 percent, the biggest drop since November 2008, after a 2.8 percent growth in the previous month. Spending also decreased at: furniture & home furniture stores (-1.3 percent vs 0.5 percent); electronics & appliance stores (-0.1 percent, the same as in November); food & beverage stores (-0.4 percent vs 0.1 percent); health & personal care stores (-2 percent vs 1.3 percent); clothing & clothing accessories stores (-0.7 percent vs 0.4 percent); general merchandise stores (-0.9 percent vs 0.4 percent); and restaurants and bars (-0.7 percent, the same as in November).

Meanwhile, receipts at motor vehicle & parts dealers rose 1 percent (vs 0.7 percent in November) and those at building material stores rebounded 0.3 percent (vs -1.5 percent in November).

Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales dropped 1.7 percent in December after an increase of 1 percent in November. These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of GDP.

Year-on-year, retail trade grew 2.3 percent in December, compared with a revised 4.1 percent rise in the previous month.

US Retail Sales Post Biggest Drop in Over 9 Years

US Census Bureau | Joana Ferreira |
2/14/2019 1:58:05 PM