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February 14, 2012 10:30 AM, EST

Retail Sales Rise 0.4% in January

Retail sales improved 0.4% in January as sales excluding automobiles rose to a 10-month high, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

The increase, which followed an unchanged mark in December that was originally estimated as a 0.1% gain, fell short of economists’ forecasts of a 0.8% rise, Bloomberg reported.

Automobile sales fell 1.1% after a 2.5% increase in December.

Sales excluding automobiles rose 0.7%, the biggest gain since March, Bloomberg said.

Overall, nine 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.