Inventories rose to $517.9 billion, the bureau said.
Economists, however, had expected a gain of 0.5 percent.
For 2013, the bureau said inventories were up 3.9 percent.
Inventories were up 4 percent from December 2012, the bureau said.
Wholesale sales also gained, climbing 0.5 percent from November to $442.4 billion, 5.8 percent higher than December 2012, the U.S. Commerce Department said.
Sales of durable goods rose 0.3 percent from November and rose 5.6 percent from December 2012.
Sales of non-durable goods were up 0.6 percent from the previous month and 6 percent from 12 months earlier.
Inventories of durable goods were up 1.3 percent from the previous month and 5.7 percent from December 2012.
Inventories of non-durable goods declined 1.3 percent from November, but rose 1.3 percent from December 2012.
The inventories-to-sales ratio for wholesalers in December, seasonally adjusted, was 1.17, a drop from December 2012 when the ratio stood at 1.19.