US retail sales rose slightly in December over America's crucial holiday shopping season, beating what had been gloomy expectations, government data released Tuesday showed. The Commerce Department said retail and food services sales totalled $431.9 billion, up 0.2 percent from November. Consumer spending is the prime driver of the US economy, so there was concern when analysts forecast flat retail sales month-over-month in December. Excluding auto sales, retail sales in December were up 0.7 percent. Sales of motor vehicles and parts fell 1.8 percent. Food and beverage stores scored the strongest gain, with sales up 2.0 percent. Sales at electronics and appliance stores saw the largest decline, falling 2.5 percent. The Commerce Department also downwardly revised the November sales growth number to 0.4 percent from a prior estimate of 0.7 percent. December sales were up 4.1 percent from a year ago. For the full year of 2013, total sales were up 4.2 percent from 2012.