Americans Shopped Less In December, Bought More Furniture And Booze

If you tried to find a parking space at your local mall at any time last month, you might think that Americans were in a spectacular shopping frenzy. That may have been the case, but consumers’ total spending across the whole economy was down in December, falling further than government economists had expected it to.

Keep this in perspective, of course: we’re talking about some relatively small percentages here. Economists expected total spending across the whole economy to fall only .1 percent, but the monthly report from the Commerce Department says that it fell .9%. That seems tiny, but remember that’s a percentage of all consumer spending in December as a whole, across the country.

One culprit for the decrease could be the deep discounts that retailers used in person and online to coax shoppers to shop during the last weeks of 2014. Categories where total spending decreased included clothing, electronics, and new automobiles.

However, there were two categories where spending was up: one was restaurants and bars, which one might expect during the holiday party season. The other was furniture, which probably makes sense for some reason.

U.S. retail sales post largest decline in 11 months [Reuters]