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Another Disappointing Retail Sales Report

A shopper in San Francisco, California.

A shopper in San Francisco, California.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Updated on

Americans eased up on purchases at retailers from department stores to clothing outlets in January, making for a disappointing start to the year after the strongest quarter of consumer spending since 2006.

Retail sales fell 0.8 percent, mainly reflecting a slump in service station receipts as gasoline prices dropped, Commerce Department data showed Thursday in Washington. Purchases fell twice as much as the Bloomberg survey median forecast, and followed a 0.9 percent retreat in December. Sales excluding gasoline were little changed.