Consumers were leery about opening up their wallets last month as retail sales fell 0.3%, following two consecutive monthly increases, the Commerce Department reported today.
December's figures were 5.4% higher than those of December 2008. Total sales for 2009 were 6.2% lower than for 2008. From October to December 2009, sales were 1.9% than for the same period in 2008.
Total retail and food sales in November were $352 billion, compared with 353 billion in November.
December's numbers showed a 0.2% decrease in non-automobile sales from November, but that number represented a 5% increase from December 2008.
There was a -0.8% decline in automobiles and automobile parts sales from October, and a 5.2% increase from November 2008.
Furniture, sporting goods, non-store retailers, sporting goods, and health/personal care stores as well as gasoline stations all had increased sales.
Building materials, clothing and food/beverage stores all had declining sales as did restaurants/bars and miscellaneous store retailers.