WASHINGTON, Jan 14 (Reuters) – U.S. retail sales fell unexpectedly in December as Americans remained constrained by shortages of goods and rising coronavirus infections.
The Commerce Department on Friday reported a 1.9% drop in retail sales last month after growth of 0.2% (revised) in November. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast flat sales in December.
Bottlenecks in supply chains due to the pandemic have led to shortages of goods, especially in the automotive sector. American consumers therefore began their Christmas shopping in October, which hurt sales in December.
Retail sales excluding autos and fuel fell 2.3% in December, after rising 0.1% (revised) in November.
An even narrower measure, which also excludes building materials and food services and is closest to the household consumption component in the calculation of gross domestic product (GDP), shows a decline of 3.1%. after a drop of 0.5% (revised) in November.
(Report Lucia Mutikani, French version Laetitia Volga, edited by Jean-Stéphane Brosse)