U.S. retail and food service sales in January fell 0.4 percent to $427.8 billion, according to the Commerce Department.
That’s the biggest drop since June 2012.
“Slower employment and wage growth the last two months, along with colder-than-normal temperatures, caused American shoppers to pull back after the strongest consumer spending pace in three years in the final quarter of 2013,” Bloomberg’s Shobhana Chandra reported.
“The expiration of emergency jobless benefits probably also played a role in holding back sales,” she wrote.
Legislation that would extend benefits that expired Dec. 28, or about seven weeks ago, is bottled up in the Senate. There are more than 3.6 million people who have been unemployed for at least 27 weeks, according to the Labor Department.
“Folks who’ve been unemployed the longest often have the toughest time getting back to work,” President Barack Obama said Jan. 31.