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February 12, 2015

Retail sales fall for second straight month

Low gasoline prices drove retail sales in the United States down 0.8 percent in January, according to government data released Thursday.

It was the second straight month for a sharp decline, as December’s retail sales were down 0.9 percent after having risen 0.4 percent in November. And the figure fell farther than expected. The average expectation of 88 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was a 0.4-percent decline, Bloomberg reported.

The U.S. Commerce Department report shows that sales aside from gasoline were generally steady or slightly up, though automobile sales were down 0.5 percent.

Gasoline sales declined 9.3 percent in January, as prices ticked downward during the month toward $2 a gallon. Gasoline sales had also been lower in December, by 6.5 percent. January’s figures mark the largest decline in gasoline sales across the nation since December 2008.

The U.S. Census Bureau monthly report provides an advance estimate of national retail and food service sales, adjusted for seasonal variation but not for price changes.

The estimate for January was $439.8 billion. While that figure was 0.8 percent lower than in December, it was 3.3 percent higher than in January 2014.

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