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U.S. Retail Sales Reflect Consumer Caution Despite Lower Gas Prices

Wall Street Journal (01/14/15) Eric Morath; Suzanne Kapner

U.S. retail sales fell 0.9% in December from a month earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, highlighting the limits of relying on inexpensive gasoline to propel spending and the broader economy. However, the decline—the biggest since January 2014—likely overstates the severity of the situation. Seasonal adjustments may account for the numbers, which are volatile and subject to revision. Steady job growth and fairly robust consumer confidence propelled consumer spending upward through most of last year, and most economists expect those factors will continue to support household spending this year.