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Ballooning credit card balances already loom over 2024’s retail sales

March 18, 2024

Retail sales in January and February indicate a possible pull-back in consumer spending, which some analysts warn is due at least in part to burgeoning credit card debt that could continue throughout the year.

Retail sales in November and December, with some holiday sales pulled into October, beat many expectations this past season; half of consumers planned to fund their purchases with debt. Indeed, in the fourth quarter, credit card debt and delinquency rates surged, with card balances up by $50 billion over the period to reach $1.13 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data.

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