It was a ho-hum end to 2022 for spending in America.
US retail sales continued their fall in December, dropping by 1.1% as inflation remained high, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.
That’s the largest monthly decline since December 2021, and practically every category (except for building materials, groceries and sporting goods) saw sales drop from the prior month.
Economists had expected sales to fall by just 0.8% for the month, according to Refinitiv. The November number was revised down to -1%.
All in all, the final retail sales report for 2022 shows a muted finish to a holiday season that crept even further into October versus the traditional late-November and December.
Annual retail sales were up 6% in December from the year prior, unchanged from November.
The data is not adjusted for inflation, which reached a 40-year high in June before falling during the second half of 2022, hitting 6.5% for the 12-month period ending in December, according to the latest Consumer Price Index reading released last week.
Wholesale price growth is also cooling significantly: The Producer Price Index for December measured 6.2%, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Wednesday.
Consumer spending has remained robust despite inflation, rising interest rates and recession fears. However, some economic data suggests that activity may be losing some steam and that Americans are running out of dry powder.
“The next few months are traditionally the slowest months for retailers,” said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst for Bankrate, in a statement. “With more Americans battling expensive credit card debt and inflation remaining stubbornly high, a further slowdown in purchasing appears likely, at least in the near term.”