CNN details the horrific results:
Below is a chart of December '08 vs. December '07 (not seasoanlly adjusted).
"Holiday sales posted the biggest decline on record falling around 3.5%," wrote Anika Khan, an economist for Wachovia. "Sales have been primarily driven by extensive discounting which is hurting retail profit margins."
Some of the decline in sales can be attributed to falling prices. The figures are not adjusted for price changes, but they are adjusted for seasonal variations. Economists believe consumer prices fell 0.8% in December; U.S. inflation data will be released on Friday.
Retail sales last month were down a record 9.8% compared with December 2007, the Commerce Department's data showed. Sales excluding autos fell a record 6.7% in the past year.
What's up with that huge spike in health care? I hope it's not those recently unemployed rushing to buy supplies while they still have coverage...