The first of today’s batch of economic reports was the highly important Retail Sales report for December. The Commerce Department announced a very weak 1.9% decline in consumer sales, falling well short of the unchanged that was expected. Even more surprising was the 2.3% drop in sales if more volatile and costly auto transactions are excluded, when a 0.2% rise was predicted. There are theories floating as to why this happened (lack of supply in stores is one), but there is no debating that consumers spent far less last month than many had thought and great news for bonds and mortgage rates. Because consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy, this should be concerning in how it may affect overall economic growth in the coming months, supporting the thought process that the worst of this spike in rates is likely behind us.