Skip to content

Retail Sales Slump in December

Curtis Dubay
Chief Economist, U.S. Chamber


Retail sales fell a sizeable 1.1% in December. That is after a 1% drop in November. Consumer strength is wavering.

Why it matters: Surprising consumer strength has buoyed the economy since COVID, but it finally seems to be buckling under the weight of inflation.

  • The broad weakness in the spending data shows no sectors are being spared from consumers pulling back.

By the numbers: Sales were down in almost all categories of spending:

  • Motor vehicles and parts dealers (-1.2%)

  • Furniture stores (-2.5%)

  • Electronics and appliance stores (-1.1%)

  • Health and personal care stores (-0.9%)

  • Gas stations (-4.6%)

  • Clothing and accessory stores (-0.3%)

  • General merchandise stores (-0.8%)

  • Food and drinking places (-0.9%)

But: Sales were up at:

  • Building material and garden supply stores (0.3%) and

  • Sporting goods and hobby stores (0.1%)

Be smart: There is an ongoing shift in consumer spending from goods to services and experiences. Spending on those is not included in this data.

  • Overall spending may be stronger once accounting for that, but it is unlikely to be strong enough to offset the drop in spending on goods.

Bottom line: The drop in consumer spending has been long-anticipated. It is a major reason many forecasters predict a sluggish 2023.



Scroll To Top