NEW YORK – After starting the year in a buying mood, the Americans slowed down their spending in February as the prices of food, gasoline, toothpaste and almost everything else continue to rise.
Retail sales rose 0.3% after registering a revised 4.9% jump from December to January, driven by wage increases, solid employment and more money in bank accounts, according to the Ministry of Commerce. January’s rise was the biggest jump in spending since March last year, when U.S. households received a final federal stimulus check for $ 1,400.
Business in restaurants rose 2.5% in February, while online sales fell 3.7%. Department stores saw an increase of 1.6%.
And there is new pressure that could send prices even higher, namely the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Western companies have withdrawn from Russia after sending tank columns towards the capital Kiev and heavily shelling the southern port city of Mariupol and other city centers.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Labor reported that consumer inflation, driven by rising costs for gas, food and housing, had risen by 7.9% over the past year, the sharpest increase since 1982. The 12-month period ended in February, meaning , that it does not. include most of the oil and gas price hikes that followed the start of Russia’s war on 24 February.
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