U.S. retail sales fell in December for 3rd straight month

NEW YORK — Retail sales fell for a third straight month as a surge in virus cases kept people away from stores during the holiday shopping season.

The report released today is yet another sign that the pandemic is slowing the U.S. economy. Last month, the country lost jobs for the first time since the spring. And government numbers out this week reported a spike in weekly unemployment claims, indicating that rising infections are forcing businesses to cut back and lay off workers.

The U.S. Commerce Department said retail sales fell a seasonally adjusted 0.7% in December from the month before. They also fell in October and November, even though many retailers tried to get people shopping early for their Christmas gifts by offering deals before Halloween.

Some retailers have already indicated that they had an unhappy holiday season. Department store chain Nordstrom, lingerie seller Victoria’s Secret and clothing retailer Urban Outfitters all said sales fell during the holidays.

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