By  on January 15, 2009

WASHINGTON — Dismal retail traffic and consumer spending in December lead to an unprecedented decline in holiday sales.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported Wednesday that sales for the month plummeted 9.8 percent below December 2007, the first year-to-year decline since such records started being kept in 1968. On a month-to-month basis, all retail and food service providers reported a seasonally adjusted decrease of 2.7 percent to $343.2 billion. For all of 2008, retail sales were down 0.1 percent from the previous 12-month period.

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