U.S. retail sales fell by 1.9% in December

Shipping delays and the Omicron surge diminished usual holiday shopping figures.
Volunteers shopping for groceries.

As the Omicron variant surged across the U.S., retail sales dipped 1.9% during the final month of 2021, according to information released by the Commerce Department on Friday.

Data shows that holiday shoppers took warnings about shipping delays seriously and shifted their holiday shopping schedule up last year. On  the whole, consumer demand led sales to grow by 16.9% in 2021. 

However, retail sales are not adjusted for inflation, so growth figures for 2021 are mitigated, to some extent, by historically high price increases. Inflation rose 7% in December, the highest figure on record since 1982. 

2021 retail growth numbers are a reflection of the consumer demand that followed a year of depressed spending in 2020 driven by the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic.