Retail sales fell 2.7 percent in December to $343.2 billion compared to November and down 9.8 percent below December 2007, the Commerce Department reported on Wednesday.
Total sales for 2008 were down 0.1 percent from 2007.
Total sales from the period between October through December 2008 were down 7.7 percent from the same period a year ago.
The October to November 2008 percent change was revised downward from -1.8 percent to -2.1 percent.
Retail trade sales were down 2.7 percent from November 2008 and were 10.8 percent below last year.
Gasoline stations sales fell 35.8 percent from December 2007 while motor vehicle and parts dealers sales fell 22.4 percent from last year.
The advance estimates are based on a subsample of the Census Bureau's full retail and food services sample.
A selected sample of 5,000 retail and food services firms are weighted to estimate the over three million firms.