Stocks fell sharply on Thursday after new data released today showed that retail sales slowed in November. The declines also came one day after the Federal Reserve rose interest rates to a 15-year high.
As of the closing bell on Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 764.13 points, or 2.25%, to 33,202.74 — in its worst day since September. The S&P 500 dropped 2.49% to 3,895.82 and the Nasdaq Composite tumbled 3.23% to 10,810.53.
Footwear companies also felt the pain on Thursday. Adidas was down 4.17% at the closing bell, while Shoe Carnival fell 9.13% and Nike dipped 2.64%. Amazon also took a 3.42% hit, while Foot Locker dropped 3.79% and Deckers fell 3.18%.
Thursday’s sell-off was due in part to the U.S. Census Bureau’s monthly retail report, which showed sales slowed in November, suggesting that inflation is taking a toll on consumers’ wallets during the busiest shopping season of the year.
Total U.S. retail sales were $689.4 billion in November, according to the report. This total was down 0.6% from October but up 6.5% from the same month in 2021. This compares with the 8.3% year-over-year growth in October and the 8.2% yearly increase in September.
But investors began cashing in stocks after the Federal Reserve continued its battle to tamp down inflation on Wednesday. The central bank boosted the overnight borrowing rate half a percentage point, taking it to a targeted range between 4.25% and 4.5%, after four consecutive months of three-quarter point hikes.
“Inflation data received so far for October and November show a welcome reduction in the monthly pace of price increases,” the chair said at his post-meeting news conference. “But it will take substantially more evidence to have confidence that inflation is on a sustained downward path.”
Inflation is indeed slowing. Consumer prices rose by 7.1% in November compared to last year, according to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This marked the smallest 12-month increase since the period ending in December 2021 and a slowdown from October’s 7.7% growth.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden called this week’s inflation report “welcome news” and a “reason for some optimism” for the holiday season. “In a world where inflation is rising at double digits in many major economies around the world, inflation is coming down in America,” President Biden said.
As for the holiday season, the National Retail Federation is predicting sales to grow, though at a slower rate than last year. Total sales between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 are expected to grow between 6% and 8% compared to 2021, representing a total of between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion in sales, on top of last year’s record-breaking 13.5% growth to $889.3 billion.