Thursday, January 14, 2010

Retail Sales Disappoint

WSJ reports:

U.S. retail sales fell in December unexpectedly, signaling restraint by consumers during the holidays as the economy wrestles with high unemployment.

Retail sales declined 0.3%, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires forecast a 0.5% increase. November sales, however, were adjusted upward, to a 1.8% increase from a previously reported 1.3% gain. October sales also rose strongly, up 1.2%.

Excluding the car sector, all other retail sales in December fell 0.2%. Economists expected a 0.3% increase. The numbers were a disappointment for the economic recovery. The retail sales data are an important indicator of consumer spending. Consumer spending makes up 70% of GDP, which is the broad measure of U.S. economic activity. Thursday's report suggests high joblessness is restraining consumers and will mute the recovery.

Forget about the overall total and look at the details. Driving more than half the contribution was an increase in the sale of gasoline (driven by the jump in the price of gasoline).

Source: Census