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Here’s Why You Should Ignore Projected Drop in U.S. Retail Sales

When the U.S. retail sales report drops on Wednesday, there are a number of things you want to pay close attention to. One of those isn’t the headline number.

The Commerce Department adjusts its retail sales data for seasonal variations such as the surge in holiday shopping during December. What it doesn’t do is correct for swings in prices. That means the continued plunge in fuel prices -- the cost of a regular gallon of gasoline decreased almost 20 percent last month -- will probably drag down the overall retail sales figure.