Amidst severe cold weather, sales feel by a seasonally adjusted rate of 0.4% during January from the previous month, which missed the expectations of Wall Street.
The run of very severe winter weather has wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy that has caused a plunge in worker productivity, a freeze in hiring, soaring costs for heating, damaged crops and canceled flights.
However, the bitter cold conditions, which left thousands stranded in places as far south as Atlanta and this week was hitting the east coast of the country, have dealt a severe blow to retailers in particular.
This could not have happened at a worse period. During January, businesses struggled in a weak period of post holiday sales, with industry sales sliding by the biggest margin in over 18 months.
One analyst on Wall Street said she spend multiple days during each of the last three weeks stranded at home due to weather. Stores closed due to weather and driving was hazardous due to the amount of snow.
On Thursday, the Commerce Department said retail sales had slumped in January by 0.4% (seasonally adjusted) from December. That missed the expectation of Wall Street of flat sales. One year ago, the same month saw sales up by 2.6%.
The government revised down the retail sales for the months of November and December. Sales for December, which were reported previously to by 0.2% up from the prior month, were adjusted down to reflect a decline of 0.1%.
In January, the sales in restaurants clothing vendors, sporting goods and furniture stores all declined as customers stayed indoors out of the cold and snow.
Motor vehicle as well as parts dealers were hit with a 2.1% decline in sales. Even at locations that are not retail, which includes a normally robust e-commerce sector were down 0.6%.
Retailers attempted to draw shoppers out of their homes with special deal on snow days but that still did not help the low numbers.
Some sectors received a boost. Revenue at supermarkets and stores that sell building supplies were up as Americans, worried about the weather purchased generators, tools and groceries.
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