Sales at U.S. retailers rose 0.4% in December to mark the fourth straight gain.
The increase was a notch below the MarketWatch forecast of 0.5%, but sales for November and October were both revised higher.
Excluding autos and gasoline, retail sales also rose 0.4% last month.
Holiday sales spotlighted the growing divide between fast-growing Internet retailers and old-fashioned department stores.
Sales at Internet and related retailers jumped 1.2% in December, while sales at department stores tumbled 1.1%. That was the biggest decline in a year and a half.
Online sellers have been taking market share away from traditional retailers for years as Americans shift on Internet shopping.
Sales also fell at stores that sell electronics and appliances, clothing and sporting goods and hobby items.
Joining Internet sellers at the top of the heap were restaurants, home and garden centers and stores that sell home furnishings.