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.
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