Confounding expectations that US consumers would rein in spending considerably in December, retail sales fell only 0.1% compared with the previous month, according to the latest figures from the Commerce Department.

The marginal drop compares favourably with gloomy predictions of a 1.4% slide, and was less severe than November’s fall of 3%.

Many store sectors enjoyed rising sales, including apparel (+2.6%), electronics/appliances (+2%), general merchandise (+0.5%), health and beauty products (+0.4%), and bars/restaurants (+1.8%).

However, such rises were offset by a 4.2% fall in gasoline revenue and a 0.1% slip in auto sales (albeit better than November’s 10.3% slump). Excluding these two sectors, sales edged up 0.3%. There were also falls at sporting goods, hobby and music stores, where revenue slipped 3.3%.

News source: New York Times