Retail sales grew 0.2% in December, the Commerce Department reported Jan. 14.
The expansion followed a 0.4% increase in November that was smaller than previously reported. On average, analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News predicted a 0.1% increase in December.
Excluding cars, sales rose 0.4%, the largest gain since February.
“There’s still some pent-up demand,” Russell Price, senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc., told Bloomberg. “We see consumer sentiment and confidence continuing to rebound, and fewer headwinds now at the beginning of the year,” he said.
For all of 2013, retail sales increased 4.2% from the prior year after a 5.4% gain in 2012.
Year-end discounting probably helped retailers overcome the coldest December in four years, and further healing in the housing market is expected to support household spending, Bloomberg reported.