U.S. retail sales drop biggest in 11 months, but seen as a blip

(Reuters) – U.S. retail sales recorded their largest decline in 11 months in December as demand fell almost across the board, tempering expectations for a sharp acceleration in consumer spending in the fourth quarter.

People shop during day after Christmas sales at Citadel Outlets in Los Angeles, California

Economists, however, cautioned against reading too much into the surprise weakness, noting that holiday spending made it difficult to smooth December data for seasonal fluctuations.

“Faulty seasonal adjustments from shifts in holiday spending patterns are probably more to blame for the December decline,” said Steve Blitz, chief economist at ITG in New York. “Looking at the last three months, spending is not collapsing.”  Read more

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