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December retail sales slide 1.9% amid shortages, omicron

retail shopping
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Closeup - Woman holding sale shopping bags. Consumerism, shopping, lifestyle concept

Americans, beset by product shortages, rising prices and the arrival of omicron, sharply cut their spending in December after a burst of spending in the fall that helped bolster the holiday season.

Retail sales fell a seasonally adjusted 1.9% in December compared with the previous month when sales increased 0.3%, the U.S. Commerce Department said Friday. Analysts expects spending to be unchanged.

Omicron was identified by the World Health Organization in late November, and the December report from the Commerce Department is the first to capture its effects on consumer behavior.

The monthly retail report covers only about a third of overall consumer spending and doesn’t include money spent on things like haircuts, hotel stays or plane tickets.