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Black Friday shoppers walk New York City's 5th Avenue. Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Shoppers spent less at restaurants and bars in November and didn't buy as many clothes and sporting goods as they had the month prior, according to the latest advance estimates from the Commerce Department.

The big picture: Strong consumer spending largely acted as the U.S. economy's backbone for the past two quarters and much of 2018. The Federal Reserve ended its interest rate-cutting streak on Wednesday, signaling confidence that the economy doesn't need easier borrowing conditions to stay afloat.

  • Consumer spending at restaurants and bars dropped 0.3% in November, marking the steepest monthly decline since last December, per the Wall Street Journal.

Yes, but: Retail sales — excluding gasoline and cars — did not change from October to November, WSJ reports, meaning overall sales rose 0.2% when seasonally adjusted.

  • And Cyber Monday, during which Americans spent a record $7.4 billion in online sales, wasn't included in Friday’s report since it took place on Dec. 2, the WSJ notes.

Go deeper: Black Friday shoppers beat online sales record

Go deeper

51 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Senate retirements could attract GOP troublemakers

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Roy Blunt's retirement highlights the twin challenge facing Senate Republicans: finding good replacement candidates and avoiding a pathway for potential troublemakers to join their ranks.

Why it matters: While the midterm elections are supposed to be a boon to the party out of power, the recent run of retirements — which may not be over — is upending that assumption for the GOP in 2022.

Congressional diversity growing - slowly

Data: Brookings Institution and Pew Research Center; Note: No data on Native Americans in Congress before the 107th Congress; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The number of non-white senators and House members in the 535-seat Congress has been growing steadily in the past several decades — but representation largely lags behind the overall U.S. population.

Why it matters: Non-whites find it harder to break into the power system because of structural barriers such as the need to quit a job to campaign full time for office, as Axios reported in its latest Hard Truths Deep Dive.

Staff for retiring Senate Republicans a K Street prize

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The retirements of high-profile Senate Republicans mean a lot of experienced staffers will soon be seeking new jobs, and Washington lobbying and public affairs firms are eyeing a potential glut of top-notch talent.

Why it matters: Roy Blunt is the fifth Republican dealmaker in the Senate to announce his retirement next year. Staffers left behind who can navigate the upper chamber of Congress will be gold for the city’s influence industry.