December Retail Data: Holiday Sales Fall Short of Expectations

By at 18 January, 2023, 10:12 pm

by Raymond J. Keating –

The latest retail and food services sales report from the U.S. Census Bureau indicated that the Christmas holiday shopping season to close out 2022 was rather grinchy.

Retail and food services sales were down by 1.1 percent in December, after dropping by a revised 1.0 percent in November.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, FRED

And when looking at major retail sectors presented in the report, everything was negative in December, except for building and garden supplies up by 0.3 percent, and food and beverage stores coming in flat.

Keep in mind that retail overwhelmingly is about small business, with 87.2 percent of employer firms in retail trade having fewer than 20 employees and 94.8 percent fewer than 100 workers.

Many retailers, of course, depend heavily on the holiday shopping season to boost their annual numbers. Unfortunately, these retail sales numbers point to a rough time for retailers, and for an economy that’s trying to fight off recession.

Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. His latest book is The Weekly Economist: 52 Quick Reads to Help You Think Like an Economist.


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