The U.S. Commerce Department reported that retail sales rose 0.6 percent in December and 6.6 percent in 2010. Retail trade sales were 8.2 percent above 2009, representing strong annual growth and gains for six consecutive months.
December's increase was slightly below private-sector expectations, which were a gain of 0.8 percent. Overall retail sales, excluding automobiles, grew 0.5 percent in December and a strong 5.9 percent for the full year of 2010. General merchandise stores fell 0.7 percent in December, but gained 3 percent in sales for the year 2010.
"As we reflect on the past year, today's data underscore that retail sales-a fundamental indicator of economic health-grew at a strong pace throughout the second half of 2010, signaling momentum in consumer spending and the overall economy," says Gary Locke, U.S. secretary of commerce.