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U.S. Retail Sales Continue To Slump Amid Spike In Coronavirus Cases

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Retail sales in the U.S. continued to decline in the month of December, according to a report released by the Commerce Department on Friday.

The Commerce Department said retail sales fell by 0.7 percent in December after tumbling by a revised 1.4 percent in November.

Economists had expected retail sales to come in unchanged compared to the 1.1 percent slump originally reported for the previous month.

"The further slump in retail sales in December confirms that the continued surge in coronavirus infections is now weighing heavily on the economy," said Andrew Hunter, Senior U.S. Economist at Capital Economics.

He added, "Despite the building optimism over fiscal stimulus, the next few months are still likely to be difficult."

The continued decrease in retail sales reflected steep drops in sales by non-store retailers, electronics and appliance stores, food service and drinking places and department stores.

On the other hand, sales by gas stations spiked by 6.6 percent amid an increase in prices, while sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers jumped by 1.9 percent.

Excluding sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales plunged by 1.4 percent in December after slumping by 1.3 percent in November.

Ex-auto sales were expected to edge down by 0.1 percent compared to the 0.9 percent decrease originally reported for the previous month.

Closely watched core retail sales, which exclude automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, also plummeted by 1.9 percent in December after tumbling by 1.1 percent in November.

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