Retail Sales Fall 2.7% in December
Jan 15, 2009
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U.S. retail sales fell 2.7% in December, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. For 2008, retail sales were down 0.1%, after a 4.1% gain in 2007. The Commerce Department said that it was the first time the annual retail sales figure has fallen on government records going back to 1992. Before 2008, the weakest year for retail sales had been an increase of 2.4% in 2002, the year after the 2001 recession.

In a separate report, the Commerce Department said businesses cut their inventories by 0.7% in November, the largest decline in seven years and the third straight month that stockpiles were reduced as companies scramble to cope with huge declines in sales. Total business sales fell by a record 5.1% in November, the government said.

For December, virtually all areas of retail sales showed declines. Auto sales fell by 0.7% and are down 22.4% from a year ago. Excluding autos, retail sales were down 3.1%, reflecting declines at department stores, specialty clothing stores, furniture stores, hardware stores, restaurants, and service stations.

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