Retail sales fell in December, a slowdown in a robust holiday shopping season.

Retail sales fell 1.9 percent in December, the Commerce Department reported on Friday, reflecting a slowdown during an otherwise robust holiday shopping season that started earlier in the year for many consumers.

It was the first drop after four straight months of sales increases, though the gain in November slowed from October because of the lengthened holiday shopping season brought on by fears of product shortages and price increases. Total sales for October through December were up 17.1 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to the report. December sales rose 16.9 percent from 2020.

Beth Ann Bovino, chief U.S. economist at S&P Global, said that although there was bound to be “headline shock” over a weaker number, the broader picture for retail sales has been strong over the past few months.

“This is not a sign of consumer weakness,” said Ms. Bovino, who had forecast a decline. “Given that households

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