US retail sales dipped in Dec.; low gas prices key factor

Americans tapered off slightly from shopping toward the end of the holiday season as lower gasoline prices cut into overall retail sales in December.
   
The Commerce Department says retail sales dipped a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent last month to $448.1 billion, after having climbed a healthy 0.4 percent in November.
   
The report showed consumer tastes shifting toward restaurants and online shopping. Sales fell in December at clothing and general merchandise stores.

Those declines were largely offset by spending at restaurants, online retailers, furnishers and building supply stores.
   
But the primary drag on retail sales remains cheaper prices at the pump. Sales at gas stations plunged 1.1 percent in December. Excluding gas, retail sales were unchanged last month and advanced 3.9 percent from a year ago.

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