January 14, 2011 9:00 AM, EST

Retail Sales Rise for Sixth Straight Month

Bruce Andrew Peters for TT

Retail sales improved for a sixth straight month in December, rising 0.6%, the Commerce Department said Friday.

The increase followed a 0.8% gain in November and sales rose 6.7% last year, the most since an 8.2% jump in 1999.

The December improvement was below economists’ forecasts of a 0.8% increase, Bloomberg reported.

Excluding automobiles, gasoline and building materials, sales rose 0.9%.

Eight of 13 major categories showed increases, though department store sales fell 1.9%. Non-store retail sales, which include Internet sales, jumped 2.6%.

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