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Retail spending sees biggest monthly drop since 2009

Last-minute shoppers are reflected in the side of an escalator in a Macy's department store at Tysons Corner Center, a mall in suburban Washington, on Christmas Eve on December 24, 2008
Photo: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

U.S. retail sales dropped 1.2% in December from the previous month, the biggest monthly drop since 2009 and a surprise for economists who were expecting sales to rise by 0.1%, the Commerce Department said on Thursday.

The big picture: The report, delayed several weeks because of the government shutdown, shows a pullback in spending from consumers. It raises concerns about what this could mean for the data on 4th quarter GDP growth, which was also delayed by the shutdown.

Go deeper: The lingering effects of the shutdown on economic data