MasterCard’s (MA) latest SpendingPulse report found December retail sales, excluding auto sales, edged 2.4% higher year-over-year. Slow spending on gasoline and in some holiday-related sectors contributed to a slower growth rate after sales rose 4.5% in November.

Excluding both autos and gasoline, December retail spending grew at a slightly stronger 2.8% year over year.

MasterCard Advisors, the professional services arm of MasterCard that produces the spending reports, said the underlying softness of holiday-related sectors dragged down last month’s growth rate. Broader retail sectors showed modest improvement, the company added.

“Throughout the year, we had been seeing a sustained, albeit gentle strength to the monthly numbers,” Kamalesh Rao, Director of Economic Research for SpendingPulse, said in a statement. “This continued into the fourth quarter, which had a strong start, peaking by the third week of October. Then from that time until the end of the year, we saw frequent swings between acceleration and deceleration.”

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