The drop in sales coincided with an increase in Covid cases due to the highly contagious Omicron variant. In July, the last time sales fell, it was on the back of rising cases due to the delta variant.
Restaurants and bars posted a 0.8% drop in sales in December, as people stayed home to protect themselves from the virus, for example.
But there was more to Omicron alone.
Online retail saw a sharp 8.7% drop in the last month, likely due to people shopping early for the holidays after stores and brands warned of potential shortages and delivery delays in the fall.
On the whole, this year was good for the retail sector, with sales up 19.3%.
This is an evolving story. It will be updated