December retail sales fall 1.9% after early holiday rush

    NEW YORK (AP) — Americans, beset by product shortages, rising prices and the arrival of omicron, sharply cut their spending in December after a burst of early spending in the fall that helped bolster the holiday season.

    Retail sales fell a seasonally adjusted 1.9% in December compared with the previous month when sales increased 0.3%, the U.S. Commerce Department said Friday.

    Sales rose 1.8% in October compared to September.

    Still, retail sales rose 16.9% compared with the year-ago period, the Commerce Department said Friday.

    Omicron was identified by the World Health Organization in late November, and the December report from the Commerce Department is the first to capture its effects on consumer behavior.

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