Retail sales in the U.S. declined sharply in December, indicating that the worst inflation in decades is hitting consumers harder than analysts expected.
Total retail sales dropped 1.9 percent in December, typically a month of robust holiday shopping, Commerce Department data showed Friday. The figures are not adjusted for inflation, suggesting that price-adjusted purchases were even weaker. The Consumer Price Index rose 0.5 percent in December.
The results were far worse than analysts expected. The median estimate by analysts was for sales to be flat to down just one-tenth of a percentage point.
Retail sales were better than expected in September and October, suggesting that concerns about inflation and shortages of goods may have pulled some shopping forward. Sales rose 0.8 percent in September and 1.7 percent in October. In an inflationary environment, making purchases early can help avoid higher prices later.
November was revised down from a 0.3 percent gain to 0.2 percent gain. The Consumer Price Index jumped 0.8 percent in November, following an increase of 0.9 percent in October. This suggests that inflation-adjusted sales actually declined on a month-over-month basis in November.
The worse than expected retail sales figures were foreshadowed by disappointing jobs numbers in November and December. Many businesses likely hired early in reaction to early shopping and concerns about supply chain and shipping delays hitting later. Employers added 531,000 employees to payrolls in October and there were a record 11 million job openings at the end of the month.
Excluding motor vehicles, which have been in short supply due to supply chain issues, and gasoline station sales, retail sales fell by 2.5 percent. Excluding restaurant sales, retail sales were down 2.1 percent.
Sales were down a steep 5.5 percent at furniture stores and off 2.9 percent at electronics and home appliance stores. Sporting goods stores, hobby stores, books stores, and musical instrument stores saw a 4.3 percent decline. Department store sales fell seven percent. Online sales plummeted 8.7 percent.
Despite the disappointing December, sales grew briskly on an annual basis. Total sales for 2021 were up 19.3 percent and sales excluding cars and gas stations were up 16.5 percent. Department store sales were up 22.3 percent and electronic store sales were up 25.2 percent. Those figures are not adjusted for inflation. Prices rose seven percent in 2021, according to the Department of Labor. Online sales were up 13.6 percent. Prices of durable goods were up 16.8 percent and nondurable goods less food and beverages were up 15.8 percent, suggesting that more than half the gain in sales at many stores was due to higher prices.
Vladimir Putin ‘Boosting Strategic Cooperation’ with Latin America While Joe Biden out for Ice Cream
Russian leader Vladimir Putin spent much of this month calling the leaders of allied communist nations in Latin America to discuss “boosting strategic cooperation in all fields,” giving Moscow enhanced leverage in the Western Hemisphere as tensions with Washington mount.
American corporate media outlets reported a frenzy over potential Russian colonization in Washington after President Joe Biden told reporters last week that he believed Putin would formally invade Ukraine – the Russian government colonized part of Ukraine in 2014 and is a looming presence in the ongoing Donbas war in the nation’s east. Biden suggested that America would not intervene in the event of a “minor incursion,” triggering panic that Biden’s remarks would embolden Putin to colonize the entire country.
Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, have denied having any evidence of an imminent further Russian invasion, but their statements have largely evaded coverage in the United States. The Russian government denies any involvement in the Donbas war and has argued that the true threat to European stability is the potential for Ukraine to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Biden himself has not commented in-depth on tensions with Russia since his extensive press conference last week. On Tuesday, during a casual public stop for ice cream, Biden compared the situation in Ukraine to World War II and claimed that predicting if Russia would invade Ukraine was “a little bit like reading tea leaves.”
If it’s above freezing, then it’s ice cream weather. pic.twitter.com/o8TOL05h3X
— President Biden (@POTUS) January 25, 2022
Russia’s Tass news agency reported that Putin appeared more preoccupied with America’s neighbors than Russia’s this week, making time for phone calls with the dictators of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.
Russian President [sic] Vladimir Putin in his recent phone calls with the leaders [sic] of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela – Miguel Diaz-Canel, Daniel Ortega and Nicolas Maduro – saw eye to eye with them on boosting strategic cooperation in all fields,” according to Tass, which cited Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Lavrov briefed Russian lawmakers on the calls on Wednesday.
“In recent telephone conversations, President Putin and his counterparts from the three friendly countries agreed to consider ways to further deepen our strategic partnership in each and every field,” Lavrov reportedly said. Tass did not report any elaboration from Lavrov on what, exactly, Putin discussed with the three leaders, or if the communists running Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua had discussed their individual relations with Russia among themselves.
U.S. President Joe Biden walks to Jeni’s Ice Cream on Barrack’s Row in Washington, DC, on January 25, 2022. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Granma, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Cuba, confirmed the conversation between Putin and Castro regime puppet Miguel Díaz-Canel, celebrating the two countries’ “excellent state of relations.” The newspaper noted that Russia had recently sent Cuba “humanitarian aid” to combat the Chinese coronavirus pandemic – which Cuba has repeatedly claimed to have conquered on its own – including oxygen tanks and unspecified medicine.
“The two also exchanged [statements] on international and regional topics,” Granma reported cryptically.
Díaz-Canel published a photo on Monday of his latest meeting with Putin thanking him for the conversation.
Sostuve cordial y fructífera conversación telefónica con el Presidente Putin. Intercambiamos sobre excelente estado relaciones y desarrollo futuro vínculos en las diferentes esferas. También sobre actual situación internacional. pic.twitter.com/Rbr1WFQ4BE
— Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez (@DiazCanelB) January 24, 2022
Russia has invested heavily in the continued existence of the half-century-old communist regime in Cuba. While occasionally griping about Cuba’s inability to pay back loans to Moscow, the Putin regime has not ceased offering them, issuing Havana a $50 million loan in 2018 to beef up its military. Cuba largely uses its military to repress political dissidents and help entrench its allied regime in Venezuela.
Venezuelan state media reported on a conversation between dictator Maduro and the Russian strongman last week.
“We exchanged on issues related to existing cooperation in various strategic areas at the highest level, a relationship that is strengthened by the unbreakable union of our peoples,” Maduro himself said in a written statement on his Twitter account.
Putin’s calls to friends in Latin America follow threats this month from the Kremlin that Russia may increase its military presence in the region in response to American troops positioned in Europe.
Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected a request by U.S. President Joe Biden to allow an American military presence in countries near Afghanistan, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. https://t.co/dB45VqoVUK
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) August 20, 2021
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov insisted that Russia could “neither confirm nor exclude” the possibility that it would increase its military presence in Latin America. Biden National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan disregarded the comment as “bluster,” despite the fact that extensive evidence suggests a formidable Russian presence already exists in Latin America.
Russia signed a military cooperation agreement with Venezuelan in 2001 that has resulted in a near-permanent Russian presence in the Caribbean country. Russian news agencies reported the Putin had greenlit plans in 2018 to establish a permanent military base on the island of La Orchila, belonging to the country.
“Our strategic bombers do not have to return to Russia every time [after an exercises], and will not need to refuel midair during patrol missions to the Americas,” Shamil Garayev, a Russian military expert, explained at the time.
“Currently, a commission of [Russian] specialists is present on the territory of Venezuela and, no doubt, it may be expanded,” then-Venezuelan Foreign Ministry Jorge Arreaza admitted in Moscow a year later. Russia also docked one of its top warships in Havana that year, on the same island as America’s military base at Guantánamo Bay.
#TemperTantrumJoe Trends After Reporter Called ‘Stupid Son of a B***h’
#TemperTantrumJoe claimed the number one spot on Twitter’s U.S. trending list this week following President Joe Biden snapping at Fox News reporter Peter Doocy, calling him a “stupid son of a bitch” after the journalist asked about inflation — an issue that has plagued Biden’s presidency.
The exchange occurred on Monday after Doocy asked about rising inflation and how that will affect Democrats in the midterm elections.
“Do you think inflation is a political liability in the mid-terms?” Doocy asked.
“It’s a great asset,” Biden sarcastically responded. “More inflation. What a stupid son of a bitch.”
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) January 24, 2022
Individuals quickly took to social media, criticizing the Biden’s behavior.
“#Bidenflation is destroying America and if you’re are worried about it #TemperTantrumJoe calls you a SOB,” one user noted.
“Dude can’t even speak in a full sentence so has a tantrum because someone asked a valid question. #TemperTantrumJoe,” another said.
“#TemperTantrumJoe Joe Biden is cracking under the pressure of not actually knowing wtf is actually going on in America and it makes him angry,” another observed.
“Let’s get Angry grandpa back to the basement where he belongs #TemperTantrumJoe,” another chimed in as others made similar observations:
You know you failed when you campaigned on being the “adult” but just a year and some days into your Presidency #TemperTantrumJoe is top trending.
— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) January 25, 2022
If Joe Biden can’t handle Peter Doocy, how is he supposed to handle Vladimir Putin?
— Claudia Tenney (@claudiatenney) January 25, 2022
Irritability and lack of restraint are symptoms of dementia. #TemperTantrumJoe
— Eric Matheny 🎙 (@EricMMatheny) January 25, 2022
Biden apologized to Doocy, but he still didn’t answer Peter’s question about why Biden is destroying the economy.#TemperTantrumJoe
— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) January 25, 2022
Joe Biden in January of 2021: “But I’m not joking when I say this, if you are ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot.” pic.twitter.com/XXH5GoRORn
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) January 24, 2022
According to reports, Biden later called Doocy and apologized.
In recent weeks, Biden has finally come to terms with the fact that inflation is a persistent issue. It was not until November that Biden conceded, admitting that inflation was a problem after months of dismissing as a temporary issue.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during the 90th Winter Meeting of USCM on January 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
“Some folks have raised worries that this could be a sign of persistent inflation. But that’s not our view,” he said on July 19, taking months to change his position.
“Everything from a gallon of gas to loaf of bread costs more,” Biden said, changing his stance, in November. “And it’s worrisome, even though wages are going up.”
Republican Study Committee: Democrat Anti-China Bill Riddled with Woke, Climate Change Carveouts
The Republican Study Committee (RSC) said on Tuesday that the House Democrats’ anti-China bill is riddled with woke and climate change provisions while lacking key provisions to prevent Chinese spying in the United States.
House Democrats released late Tuesday night their bill designed to increase American competitiveness against China in advanced research and manufacturing.
The Senate passed its version, championed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), in June. That bill, the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), was criticized by conservatives as a weak attempt to increase competitiveness against China.
The House Democrat version, the America COMPETES Act, totals in at 2,900 pages and aims to boost manufacturing, especially in the semiconductor industry. It would also attempt to fix the broken supply chains unfolding under President Joe Biden’s administration.
Lawmakers have increasingly looked to boost domestic semiconductor production after the coronavirus pandemic broke international supply chains and made it difficult to keep up with semiconductor production.
The pivot to the anti-China legislation also serves as the latest gambit for Democrats to seize a win after they failed to pass the $4.91 trillion Build Back Better Act, and Schumer failed to break the filibuster and pass two voter bills.
As Punchbowl News wrote Wednesday, “And let’s be completely frank: This White House needs a win.”
The Republican Study Committee (RSC) noted Tuesday that the bill would not counter Chinese activity within the United States:
Democrats’ so-called “anti-China” bill is out: – Almost no provisions going after #CCP activity within the US, which should be our main concern. – It wastes money on issues completely disconnected from countering China, like $4B to the UN climate fund. Who are they fooling?
Democrats’ so-called “anti-China” bill is out:
– Almost no provisions going after #CCP activity within the US, which should be our main concern.
– It wastes money on issues completely disconnected from countering China, like $4B to the UN climate fund.
Who are they fooling?
— RSC (@RepublicanStudy) January 26, 2022
The Dems’ new #China bill includes:
• $8M to conserve coral reefs (pg 1636)
• $1.5M for a coral reef fellowship program (pg 1655)
• $4B for the UN Green Climate Fund (pg 1392)
* But not a dollar to OFAC to enforce sanctions on the CCP or to support military spending.
— RSC (@RepublicanStudy) January 26, 2022
An RSC staffer told Breitbart News that the RSC is diligently looking into the legislative text to find every carveout that Democrats have slipped into the bill, which might include sections of the Build Back Better Act.
The legislation also contains other woke provisions, including:
- Collects demographic data, on a voluntary basis, of information on gender, race, military or veteran status, or any other demographic category appropriate for patent applications.
- Ensures protection for “sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, genetic information, or disability” in relation to the National Apprenticeship Act of 2022.
- Amends section 204 of the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000 to ensure equity for the territories of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands. These amendments allow block grant funds to qualify as the nonfederal share of project costs and allow for cost-share waivers for the territories for Section 213 conservation grants.
- Supports organizational research, including research on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the technology sector (Diversity in Tech Research).
- Supports nontraditional apprenticeship populations “such as women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, and individuals impacted by the criminal or juvenile justice system…”
- “Amends the Department of Energy Science Education Enhancement Act (42 U.S.C. 7381) by directing the Secretary of Energy to expand opportunities to increase the number and the diversity, equity, and inclusion of highly skilled STEM professionals working in the Department’s mission-relevant disciplines and broaden the recruitment pool to increase diversity, including expanded partnerships with minority-serving institutions, emerging research institutions, and scientific societies.” [emphasis added]
- Requires outreach to historically black colleges and universities, minority institutions, higher education programs that serve veterans and rural communities, and emerging research institutions.
- Creates a Chief Diversity Officer of the National Science Foundation (NSF) “charged with providing guidance and leading the Foundation’s strategic planning to broaden participation of individuals and institutions in NSF-funded activities.”
- “Directs the Director of the Peace Corps to report on strategies to expand the number of Peace Corps volunteers in Oceania, with the goals of expanding the Peace Corps presence to all currently feasible locations in Oceania and working with regional and international partners to expand the presence of Peace Corps volunteers in low-income Oceania communities in support of climate resilience initiatives.”
- Creates Climate Change Officer positions within the Foreign Service responsible for convening stakeholders and supporting U.S. engagement on climate change, and requires corresponding curriculum at the Foreign Service Institute.
- Creates $4 billion grants for 2022 and 2023 to assist developing countries with “mitigating and adapting to climate change.”
House Foreign Affairs Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-TX) railed at Democrats for pushing a partisan bill:
“We have been in talks with House and Senate committees of jurisdiction for weeks, trying to put together a bipartisan bill that could pass Congress,” McCaul explained. “Rather than allowing those talks to play out, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats have decided to torpedo the chance of a bipartisan, bicameral bill to confront the generational threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party.”
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.
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