The drop, which also includes sales of accessories and shoes, was reported Friday by the Commerce Department. Overall retail purchases at stores, restaurants on online retailers declined for the third month in a row, down 0.7 percent in December.
Data from the National Retail Federation, which does not include restaurants or gasoline and auto sales, showed holiday sales actually grew 8.3 percent year-over-year, with home improvement stores and online retailers driving growth, while apparel chain and department store sales declined.
There are other negative indications showing a slowing US economy this winter. Employers cut 14,000 jobs in December, marking the first decline since the pandemic hit last spring.
But research firm NPD Group, whose data is focused on sales of apparel and personal-care products at multi-brand retailers, reported that sales (including e-commerce) increased 27 percent in the week ending January 9, the largest increase since the start of the pandemic.