U.S. retail sales fall for second straight month

Americans pinched their wallets at the start of the key holiday shopping season. The Commerce Department reported Wednesday retail sales dropped 1.1% last month. That was more than economists had expected, and it added to growing signs of a slowdown in the economic recovery.

What’s more, November marked the second straight monthly drop due to a downward revision of October sales from a gain to a decline. New coronavirus infections resulting in business restrictions and decreasing household income were likely behind the drop.

Sales fell nearly across the board, declining sharply at auto dealerships, clothing stores and restaurants and bars. But consumers did spend more on groceries and building materials.

The economic recovery has been slowing as America’s health crisis deepens. Employers are hiring fewer people, and more Americans are filing new claims for jobless benefits.

Compounding all of this: the loss of a weekly unemployment supplement. And on December 26, at least 9 million Americans will lose government-funded benefits - dampening Christmas cheer.