U.S. retail sales recorded their biggest drop in more than nine years in December as receipts fell across the board, suggesting a sharp slowdown in economic activity at the end of 2018.
The Commerce Department said on Thursday retail sales tumbled 1.2 percent, the largest decline since September 2009 when the economy was emerging from recession. Data for November was revised slightly down to show retail sales edging up 0.1 percent instead of gaining 0.2 percent as previously reported.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales increasing 0.2 percent in December. Retail sales in December rose 2.3 percent from a year ago.
The December retail sales report was delayed by a 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government that ended on Jan. 25. No date has been set for the release of the January retail sales report, which was scheduled for publication on Friday.
The decline of brick-and-mortar stores isn’t expected to slow down, according to a new report.
Coresight Research released an outlook of 2019 store closures Wednesday, saying there’s “no light at the end of the tunnel.”
According to the global market research firm’s report, six weeks into 2019, U.S. retailers have announced 2,187 closings, up 23 percent compared to last year. Those closings include 749 Gymboree stores, 251 Shopko stores and 94 Charlotte Russe locations.
Factors influencing the closings include online retail growth, flat and declining sale and rising interest rates, according to the report.
Bankruptcies also are continuing at a rapid pace “with the number of filings in the first six weeks of 2019 already at one-third of last year’s total,” the report states.