The Commerce Department reported Friday retail sales posted a solid increase of 0.6% last month, but still missed expectations for a rise of 0.7%. Retail sales were up 4.1% from a year ago in December 2015 and gained 3.3% during 2016. That’s up from 2.3% in 2015.
Excluding the volatile auto component, gasoline, food services and building materials–also referred to as core retails sales–and the increase was just 0.2% after being flat in the month of November. Economists expected a 0.5% gain on the gauge that most closely corresponds with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product (GDP).
Receipts at clothing stores were flat during what should be a busy holiday season and receipts at restaurants and bars fell 0.8%. Department store giants like Macy’s and Kohl’s both reported declines in holiday sales last week. They, along with the entire sector, have struggled to beat back the competition from online shopping stores, such as Amazon.