Page last updated at 14:42 GMT, Friday, 12 December 2008

US sales and producer prices fall

Shoppers leave a Costco store in Chicago (Oct. 8)
US shoppers are cutting back on their spending

US retail sales and producer prices fell sharply in November as hard-up consumers tightened their belts and energy prices continued to fall.

The US Commerce Department said sales fell 1.8% in November, the fifth consecutive monthly fall, but better than October's record 2.9% slump.

Producer prices also fell, by 2.2%, the fourth straight monthly decline.

The National Bureau of Economic Research said earlier this month that the US entered recession last year.

Revised figures

The percentage fall in retail sales was not as bad as some analysts had expected, and follows a record decrease in October of 2.9%.

Excluding motor sales and parts, sales were down 1.6%, an improvement on October's decline of 2.4%.

Overall sales totalled $355.66bn (237.3bn; 265.5bn euros).

Weak petrol sales were partly to blame for the fall, dropping by a record 14.7%.

While some analysts were pleasantly surprised by the figures, others remained pessimistic.

"We're seeing some headlines that say that this number is better than expected. But if you look at the actual dollar figure, these figures are worse than expected," said Matt Esteve at Tempus Consulting.

Producer prices declined less than they did in October, when they fell by a record 2.8%. The drop was largely due to continuing falls in energy prices.

Core producer prices excluding food and energy actually increased by 0.1%.

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