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US retail sales growth steady in December 2019; full-year gain at 3.6%

Retail and food sales in the U.S. registered a slower-than-expected monthly increase in December 2019 but managed to eke out gains for the full year amid fears of a potential recession.

Seasonally and calendar-adjusted U.S. retail and food services sales rose 0.3% to $529.61 billion, matching the previous month's revised growth rate, advance data from the U.S. Census Bureau showed. The consensus estimate of economists polled by Econoday was for 0.4% monthly growth.

Sales at gasoline stations climbed 2.8% month over month, while those at clothing and clothing accessories stores rose 1.6%. Sales at food and beverage stores edged up 0.4%. Meanwhile, motor vehicle and parts dealers' sales fell 1.3%.

Excluding motor vehicle and parts stores and gasoline stations, monthly sales rebounded with a 0.5% increase, exceeding market estimates of a 0.4% rise, following a revised 0.2% decline the prior month.

On an annual basis, retail and food services sales jumped 5.8%.

Overall sales in 2019 were 3.6% higher than in 2018, according to the Census Bureau.

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Robert Kaplan said Jan. 15 that he expects the consumer sector to support U.S. economic growth in 2020, which he projected to be in the range of 2% to 2.25%.