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U.S. Retail Sales Shrank Again in December

FILE: In this July 21,2021 photo, a consumer shops at a retail store in Morton Grove, Ill.

US retail sales slumped for a second straight month in December, according to government data released Wednesday, with its largest drop in a year signaling a key growth engine is faltering.

Retail sales contracted more than expected by 1.1 percent in December from a month prior, to $677.1 billion, said the latest Commerce Department figures. This was down from a revised one percent drop in November.

Falling sales at department stores and gasoline stations proved to be major drags, while the auto and furniture segments also saw declines.

Gas prices plunged last month, and analysts said bad weather across the country could have temporarily held back vehicle sales.

Spending at restaurants and bars took a hit as well, dropping 0.9 percent between November and December, despite remaining strong previously in the face of high inflation.

"Consumers continue to spend, albeit at a pace that is slowing compared to earlier in the recovery," said President Joe Biden in a statement.

Retail sales remains 6.0 percent up from December 2021.

For all of last year, total sales jumped 9.2 percent from a year ago, the Commerce Department said.