NATION : Retail Sales Up a Brisk 6.7% in ’88

From Times staff and wire service reports

Retail spending shot up 6.7% in 1988, the fastest pace in four years, despite lackluster Christmas and automotive sales in December, the government reported today.

Sales for all of 1988 totaled a record $1.61 trillion, and represented the biggest annual percentage gain since a 9.8% increase in 1984, the Commerce Department said. Sales had increased by 5.1% in 1987. Department store sales rose by only 4.5% last year, the smallest annual gain since a 3.4% rise in the recession year of 1982. December’s retail sales were up 0.2% from the previous month and were led by a 1.9% gain in sales at hardware stores.