US December retail sales -1.9% vs 0.0% expected

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retail sales control group
  • Prior was +0.3% (revised to +0.2%)
  • Ex-autos -2.3% vs +0.2% expected
  • Prior ex-autos +0.3% (revised to +0.1%)
  • Control group -3.1% vs +0.1% expected
  • Prior control group -0.1% (revised to -0.5%)

There was some considerable hand-wringing about a soft reading in retail sales due to credit card spending data and that proved to be the case. The numbers were even worse than speculated with the largest fall in the control group — which excludes oil, gas and building materials — since Feb 2021.

I’ve been writing for years how December retail sales tend to miss because of the secular trend towards earlier holiday shopping and that was especially true this year because of worries about shipping. Later, the lack of spending was compounded by omicron.