Consumer Sentiment fell 16.3% YOY in December, but did rise slightly month-to-month, a small but positive shift for retailers looking to drive December sales. The November retail sales increase slightly exceeding the core inflation rate of 6%, but sales were down .2% over previous month totals. Slow sales growth is driving increased inventory levels and retailers will be challenged to move inventory through the stores. Consumers have less spending power and are dipping into savings / extending credit to cover the gap; personal savings was down 2.3% in October, and revolving credit debt continues to climb, increasing 15.2% in October. Inflation continues to concern shoppers, but the rate of increase has slowed across the board. Retail gas prices continue to drop; the average U.S. price as of December 12th (all grades) was $3.35. In the supply chain, costs continue to ease, with general freight trucking 5.3% below the two-year high in March 2022 and container freight rates continuing to decline.
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