US retail sales continue upward crawl in December

New York shopper
Image caption Sales of electronics goods were particularly weak over the Christmas period, the data suggested

US retail sales continued their upward crawl in December, rising 0.1% in the month according to initial estimates.

It was the slowest growth rate in seven months according to the Commerce Department. But November's increase was revised up from 0.2% to 0.4%.

Spending at department stores and on electronic goods was particularly weak over the Christmas period.

Despite sales growth tailing off late in the year, December 2011's figure was up a healthy 7.7% compared with 2010.

Weak demand

Spending at electronics and appliance stores fell 3.9% in the month.

Core retail sales - which exclude volatile and price-driven items such as cars, petrol and building materials - fell 0.2%, suggesting that underlying consumer demand was weaker than the headline figure implied.

Consumption accounts for approximately 70% of the US economy.

Sales have now risen 20.4% above the low reached during the 2008-09 recession, and 5.9% above the pre-recession peak.

The December figure disappointed markets, which had been expecting an increase of about 0.4% for the month.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites