Holiday sales increase, fall short of expectations

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Total U.S. retail sales generated an estimated $400.6 billion in December, an increase of 6.5% compared with the same month last year, according to a Jan. 12 report from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Total sales for the 2011 calendar year increased 7.7% to $4.7 trillion compared with the prior year, the report said.

A separate report excluding automobile, restaurant and gasoline sales, which was released by the National Retail Foundation (NRF) on Jan. 12, said that December retail industry sales increased 4.1% year-over-year to $471.5 billion.

This beats estimates from the NRF in October that predicted holiday retail sales would increase 2.8% to $465.6 billion this season. Despite beating the NRF's projections, retail sales fell short of expectations.   

Representatives from the NRF and Commerce Department were not immediately available for comment.

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