US retail sales drop in December

The US Commerce Department says retail sales dropped in December compared to the previous month.

The department released its latest figures on Wednesday. They show that sales fell in December by 1.1 percent compared to November. That is the sharpest drop in a year.

Retailers say many consumers took advantage of discounts in October and moved up their holiday shopping. They say rising interest rates have made people think twice about paying with their credit cards.

Consumers are also rethinking big-ticket items that are sensitive to higher borrowing costs. They spent 2.5 percent less on furniture, 1.2 percent less on motor vehicles, and 1.1 percent less on electronics.

Drivers have seen gas prices drop by 4.6 percent. That has lowered receipts at service stations and helped to knock down retail sales overall.