Washington, Rabi’II 05, 1437, January 15, 2016, SPA — U.S. retail sales fell unexpectedly in December as unusually warm weather cut sales of winter clothing and cheaper gasoline limited revenue at service stations, the government reported Friday, adding to signs that economic growth slowed sharply in the fourth quarter.
The Commerce Department said retail sales fell 0.1 percent last month to $448.1 billion after climbing a solid 0.4 percent in November. For all of 2015, retail sales rose 2.1 percent, the weakest performance since 2009, after rising 3.9 percent in 2014.
Receipts at gasoline stations fell 1.1 percent last month after dropping 1.3 percent in November. Auto sales were unchanged after rising the previous month. Sales at clothing stores fell 0.9 percent, and sales at online retailers rose 0.3 percent.
Retail sales excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials, and food services fell 0.3 percent in December after a 0.5 percent increase the previous month. Such core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer-spending component of gross domestic product (GDP).
The drop in core retail sales last month and the downward revision to the November figure could prompt economists to reduce their fourth-quarter GDP growth estimates, which currently range between annual rates of 0.5 and 1.4 percent.
The mixed retail-sales report joins weak data on construction, manufacturing, and export growth to suggest that economic activity cooled significantly in the final three months of 2015.
20:36 LOCAL TIME 17:36 GMT