US retail sales preview

The early-week US economic highlight will be CPI and that will dominate the conversation until it's released but on Friday there could be a new set of worries with the release of December retail sales.

The consensus is +0.1% on the headline, +0.3% excluding autos and +0.2% on the control group.

Bank of America has tabulated its credit card spending data and thinks it will be much worse. They're forecasting -1.3% on the headline, -1.6% ex-autos and -2.1% on the control group.

Part of the reason is something I've been writing about for years -- that holiday shopping is being done progressively earlier. That was especially the case in 2021 as consumers were warned about shipping delays and bottlenecks. That factor exaggerated gains in October (+1.8%) and December will be the payback.

They also note that restaurant spending slowed sharply in December as omicron hit, suggesting consumers are hunkering down.

In previous covid waves, consumers could rely on government handouts but

this time, spending among income groups earning less than $50K has slowed noticeably.

As more credit card data is released and economics lower estimates, that could add to the risk averse tone.