Seasonally adjusted retail sales fell 0.4% in the month of December, after a 1% rise the previous month. Excluding the the purchase of autos, sales also fell 0.4%. Economists were expecting no gain in total sales, and a 0.3% drop in sales excluding autos.
Strengths within the sector included furniture, food and beverage, and health and personal care products.
Gas purchases, electronics and appliances, and apparel proved to be the laggards.
Overall, retail sales were up 4.2% in 2007, the slowest rate of growth since 2002.