NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Retail sales climbed in December, propelled by strength from online merchants, the government said Friday.
Overall sales rose 0.6% last month, the Commerce Department said. Sales were expected to have gained 0.7%, after rising 0.8% in November, according to a consensus of economists surveyed by Briefing.com.
Month-to-month sales, excluding autos, rose 0.5% in December, falling short of the forecast for an increase of 0.6%.
Retail sales rose 7.9% in December, compared to the year-ago month, according to the government.
The report is closely watched by economists, with holiday sales serving as a barometer for the progress of economic recovery.
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