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Retail sales unexpectedly plunged in December, according to official government statistics. But economic sleuths are not sure why.
The government reported that retail sales bounced back a bit in January, rising 0.2 percent overall and 1.2 percent excluding gas and automobiles. But it revised December down from the originally reported 1.2 percent drop to a 1.6 percent drop.
Decline - Lot - Economy - Watchers - Heads
That deep and unusual decline has set a lot of economy watchers scratching their heads. There have been some signs from retailers that sales were slow in December between Thanksgiving and Christmas, with both Kohl’s and Macy’s producing disappointing results. But Target did very well and Walmart posted its strongest holiday quarter in more than a decade and said it saw no signs of weakness in U.S. consumer spending. Same-store sales at Home Deport were up a whopping 7.5 percent.
This is not something being caused by online retailers stealing market share from brick-and-mortars. In fact, the government said “nonstore retailers”–the category that tracks online sales–saw a 5.0 percent decline in December. That’s worse than the 3 percent decline originally reported. It’s so bad that it stretches credibility.
Amazon - US - Nonstore - Retailer - Holiday
Amazon, by far the largest U.S. nonstore retailer, said that it saw a “record-breaking” holiday season,...
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