US clothing stores registered sales increases in December, but economic uncertainty continued to impact the sector as a whole, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

US Department of Commerce figures said total retail and food services sales (which include cars, fuel and restaurants) were up 4.7% on last year, with clothing and clothing accessories stores recording a 5.1% increase to US$20.3bn.

For the full year, clothing stores sales were up 5.5% to $239.2bn, the report said.

NRF figures, which exclude cars, fuel and restaurants, suggested December retail sales were up 0.8% on November and up 2.1% (before adjustments) on last year.

Total holiday retail sales increased 3% to $579.8bn, below the NRF forecast of a 4.1% rise, while non-store holiday sales were up 11%.

Meanwhile, the NRF said clothing and clothing accessories stores had recorded a 2.5% unadjusted sales increase compared to last December.

“For over six months, we’ve been saying that the fiscal cliff and economic uncertainty could impact holiday sales,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay.

“As the number shows, these issues had a visible impact on consumer spending this holiday season.

“We can’t expect consumers to continue to carry the burden of growing our economy – Washington must put political differences aside and do what it takes to get our country growing again and Americans back to work.”