Sales at U.S. retailers rose 1.2 percent in December as shoppers took advantage of incentives. The jump in overall retail sales, compared with December 2001, reported today by the Commerce Department came after sales went up by a solid 0.9 per cent in November. Excluding automobile sales, however, overall retail sales were flat in December, compared with a modest 0.3 per cent gain in November.
December's performance was slightly weaker than the 1.5 per cent rise in retail sales analysts were predicting, and the 0.3 per cent increase they were forecasting after backing out sales of automobiles. Consumer spending reportedly accounts for two-thirds of all economic activity in the U.S.. For all of 2002, retail sales rose by 3.4 percent, down from a 3.7 percent gain in 2001. The report also showed that sales at electronics and appliances stores rose 0.6 percent in December, up from a tiny 0.1 per cent increase in November. But at furniture and home furnishing stores, sales were flat after posting a sizable 1.6 percent rise in November. Sales of building and garden supplies fell 1.8 per cent last month, following a 0.8 percent rise. (Associated Press)
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