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January 12, 2012 10:45 AM, EST

Retail Sales Edge Up 0.1% in December

Tom Biery/TransPixs

Retail sales improved 0.1% in December, the smallest gain in seven months, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

The slight increase, which followed a revised 0.4% gain in November that was higher than initially estimated, fell short of economists’ forecasts of a 0.3% rise, Bloomberg reported.

Automobile sales jumped 1.5% after a 0.9% increase in November.

Sales excluding automobiles decreased 0.2%, the first decline since May 2010, Bloomberg said.

Overall, seven of 13 major retail categories showed increases, Commerce said.

Almost all trucking operations depend on the health of retail sales because such sales involve nearly every type of cargo.