December retail sales drop 0.3 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) - Retail sales fell in December as demand for
autos, clothing and appliances all slipped, a disappointing finish
to a year in which sales dropped by the largest amount in 27 years
of records.

The weakness in consumer demand highlighted the formidable
hurdles facing the economy as it struggles to recover from the
deepest recession in seven decades.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that retail sales declined
0.3 percent in December compared November, much weaker than the 0.5 percent rise that economists had been expecting.

Excluding autos, sales dropped by 0.2 percent, also weaker than the 0.3 percent rise analyst had forecast.

For the year, sales were down 6.2 percent, the biggest decline
on records that go back to 1992. The only other year that sales had
fallen was 2008, when they slipped by 0.5 percent.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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