Earlier this week Bank of America warned that December retail sales could come in weaker than expected, when it looked at its internal credit and debt card spending data and found a 1.0% drop. Moments ago the official data released from the Dept of Commerce confirmed that once again BofA was right, when it announced that in December, US retail spending rose 0.6%, below the expected 0.7%, however much of this was thanks to spending on cars and gas. If one excludes autos, the rise was only 0.2%, below the 0.5% expected, and if one also excludes gas, there was no increase in spending in December whatsoever.

Meanwhile, the National Retail Federation is in full-on party-hats mode, trumpeting Holiday Sales Outpace Forecast Despite Department-Store Woes. We have a guess at what the true reality is...

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