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Retail sales rose a scant 0.3% in November from October. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast a 0.8% gain. And the November growth was a huge drop froth 1.7% month to month growth in September. On a year to year basis retail sales are up 18.2% from the depressed levels of 2020.

Let’s speculate on causes, shall we?

Big increase in sales of fuel and food cut into spending on everything else. Gas stations, for example, shows a 1.7% jump in sales for the month. Spending at restaurants and bars rose by 1%. Grocery sales climbed 0.9%.

With inflation roaring ahead at a 6.8% annual rate in November, most of that increase in sales is a result of higher prices.

You can squeeze only so much blood out of the rock that is the family budget. So spending in key holiday categories were down–partially a reflection of smaller than usual holiday discounts this year. Department store sales slumped 5.4%. Electronics and appliance stores reported a 4.6% month to month drop.

A new wave of infections from the Omicron Variant kept some folks out of stores. (On top of still rising numbers of infections from the Delta Variant.)

And finally, some families, looking an impending end to the monthly money going to families with kids decided not to spend money they wouldn’t have in the future. The last child tax credit checks, which went out to 36 million families, will go out in December–unless Congress manages to renew the program.