U.S. retail sales declined in December, but were better than 2019

Last-minute holiday shoppers are seen at the Glendale Galleria in Glendale, Calif., on December 20, 2020. Government figures Friday said sales surpassed $540 billion in the month of December. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI

Jan. 15 (UPI) — Retail sales in the United States continued to slide in December for the third straight month, the Commerce Department said in is monthly economic assessment Friday.

Seasonally adjusted retail and food sales for December totaled $541 billion, a decline of 0.7% from November, the department said in its report.

The overall non-adjusted sales figure, however, is still 3% better than it was in December 2019. The report also said total sales for all 12 months of 2020 was up 0.6% over 2019.

The report also revised its November estimate down from the initially reported 1.1% decline to 1.4%.

Economists expect the $900 billion COVID-19 stimulus package that Congress passed last month to improve retail sales for January.

Retail sales in the United States have been affected by renewed restrictions aimed at tamping down on rising COVID-19 cases, as well as rising unemployment.

Friday’s report came one day after the Labor Department said close to 1 million U.S. workers filed new unemployment claims last week — the highest weekly total in five months. That high figure took most analysts, who’d expected fewer than 800,000 new claims, by surprise.

President-elect Joe Biden said Thursday night that his administration will push for a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus plan, which includes a third round of direct payments — for $1,400 — to most Americans.


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