December retail sales slide 1.9% amid shortages, omicron

Consumer

FILE – Shoppers walk to the Macy’s store in the Downtown Crossing district, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, in Boston. Americans slowed their spending in November from October but they showed another month of resilience against higher prices and shortages in stores. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans, beset by product shortages, rising prices, and the arrival of omicron, sharply cut their spending in December after a burst of early spending in the fall that helped bolster the holiday season.

Retail sales fell a seasonally adjusted 1.9% in December compared with the previous month when sales increased 0.3%, the U.S. Commerce Department said Friday.

Get daily news, weather, and breaking news alerts straight to your inbox! Sign up for the abc27 newsletters here

Sales at department stores fell 7%. restaurant sales slipped 0.8% and online sales fell 8.7%.

Omicron was identified by the World Health Organization in late November, and the December report from the Commerce Department is the first to capture some of its effect on consumer behavior.

The monthly retail report covers only about a third of overall consumer spending and doesn’t include money spent on things like haircuts, hotel stays, or plane tickets, all of which tend to see business tail off when anxiety about COVID-19 tick higher.

The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, is crunching last month’s sales figures and is expected to release the actual holiday sales results later Friday. It’s expecting a record-breaking growth of anywhere from 8.5% and 10.5% compared to the year-earlier period despite the challenges facing shoppers and stores.

The omicron variant has led to widespread worker shortages with so many people calling out sick, including the retail sector, and supply shortages have curtailed what they can sell. Stores and restaurants have slashed operating hours or remained closed on days they had previously been open.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Don't Miss