Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: December sales fall short of expectations

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Williams-SonomaCheck out the U.S. government’s take on December retail sales, which totaled $352.99 billion.

U.S. retail sales fell 0.3 percent in December versus November, while analysts polled by Reuters had forecast a rise of 0.5 percent.

If you compare December 2009 to December 2008, sales actually rose 5.4 percent. Excluding autos, gasoline and building materials, sales rose 3.2 percent from a year earlier.

“Obviously the market was primed for a better recovery from the consumer,” said Boris Schlossberg, director of research at GFT Forex. “That’s going to be the story going forward — will (the) consumer be able to take over from the  government and replace demand that has come so far from  government spending. If the consumer is unable to do that, it’s going to pose some significant risks to the global recovery story.”

Check Out Line: Are consumers spending?

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Check out the latest, somewhat confusing, figures on consumer spending.ECONOMY-DOLLAR/PIZZA

The Commerce Department said U.S. consumer spending increased 0.2 percent in February, in line with market expectations, after rising 1 percent in January. That makes two straight months of gains.

However, after adjusting for inflation, consumer spending in February fell 0.2 percent.

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