New York -- Overall retail sales rose 0.2% last month, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast a 0.1% increase. Excluding autos however, December retail sales were up a solid 0.7%.
Auto sales fell 1.8%, dragging down broader figures, a reflection of bad weather and calendar quirks than the start of a new trend. Retail spending figures for prior months were revised down to a 0.5% increase in October and a 0.4% rise in November.
Total retail sales for 2013 were up 4.2% from the prior year, a slowdown from 2012's 5.4% pace and 2011's 7.5% gain, the Commerce Department said.