Sales held up in December despite talk of a impending "fiscal cliff" calamity that made headlines and shook stock markets. Consumers, however, kept spending, data shows.
Core spending, which excludes the more volatile categories of automobiles, building materials and gas station sales, rose 0.6 percent. Sales at gas stations fell by 1.6 percent, which is in line with the drop in gasoline prices, indicating demand for gasoline did not slack off in December.
Motor vehicle sales rose 1.8 percent in December. Sales of building supplies were unchanged in the month.
Retail minus automobiles rose 0.3 percent in the month.
The bureau adjusted its November sales figure higher. Previously reported at a 0.3 percent gain, the bureau revised that to 0.4 percent.
Sales for the month totaled $415.7 billion. For the fourth quarter, sales were up 4.2 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2011.
The bureau said retailer sales rose 4.4 percent in December from December 2011. Non-store retail sales, including Internet and catalog sales, rose 12.6 percent from December 2011.