Retail Sales Plunge More Than Expected in November

by M. Corey Goldman

U.S. consumers dramatically scaled back on their purchases and limited holiday shopping in November as the coronavirus pandemic triggered new business restrictions and outright closures, snapping a six-month stretch of retail sales growth.

U.S. retail sales fell 1.1% to $546.5 billion last month, the Commerce Department reported on Wednesday, down from a revised negative 0.1% pace in October. Economists polled by FactSet had been expecting a decline of 0.3% in November.

The decline marks the first month-over-month drop in the department’s measure of spending at stores, vehicle dealerships, restaurants and online since April. It also reflects a broader retrenchment in spending amid a second wave of Covid-19 infections as well as stalling employment and broader economic growth.

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