WASHINGTON — The Commerce Department on Tuesday issued the government’s tally on retail sales in December, which confirmed the lackluster holiday season performance reported earlier by stores.

According to Commerce, department store sales fell 5.3 percent in December on a seasonally adjusted basis compared with the year before, as general merchandise sales inched up 2.8 percent for the period, and sales at apparel and accessory stores increased 2.9 percent.

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