At J.C. Penney, meantime, even an optimistic outlook from CEO Marvin Ellison couldn't buoy the retailer's shares after investors were underwhelmed by the company's 3.4 percent gain for holiday sales.
Consumer spending is the main engine of the USA economy, accounting for more than two-thirds of total economic output.
The Commerce Department said retail sales increased by 0.4 percent in December after climbing by an upwardly revised 0.9 percent in November.
Excluding auto sales, retail sales still rose by 0.4% in December after jumping by 1.3% in November.
The Labor Department said its consumer price index inched up by 0.1% in December after climbing by 0.4 in November. These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product.
At the same time, NRF had forecast non-store sales growth, which includes online revenue, would come in between 11% and 15% to between $137.7 billion and $142.6 billion.
GlobalData Retail managing director Neil Saunders cited these factors: Consumer confidence at 17-year highs, steady wage growth of about 3 percent, the booming stock market, and the robust housing sector.
"Whether they shopped in-store, online or on their phones, consumers were in the mood to spend", Matthew Shay, president and chief executive of the NRF, said in a statement.
Holiday sales jumped 5.5 percent compared to a year ago, marking the largest jump seen since the end of the Great Recession, the National Retail Federation said on Friday.
Many retailers say they saw a bump in sales during the important holiday season. "Strong employment and more money in consumers' pockets along with the news of tax cuts clearly helped with the pace of shopping". The market conditions were right, retailers were doing what they know how to do, and it all worked. "We think the willingness to spend and growing purchasing power seen during the holidays will be key drivers of the 2018 economy", Kleinhenz said.
Both December's increase in retail sales and the strong upward revision to November data strengthens economists' expectations of an acceleration in consumer spending for the fourth quarter.
Building materials and supplies stores increased 8.1% unadjusted year-over-year.
Receipts at restaurants and bars gained 0.7 percent, the biggest increase seen since January.
Furniture and home furnishings stores increased 7.5% unadjusted year-over-year.
Clothing and accessories stores increased 2.7% unadjusted year-over-year.