(Undated)  --  The economic outlook is optimistic following last month's jump in consumer spending.  The Commerce Department reports retail sales increased 0.7 percent in December, which was higher than anticipated. 

The sales do not include automobiles, gasoline, building materials or food services.  Consumers flocked to clothing stores to take advantage of deep discounts, boosting sales by nearly two-percent.  Food and beverage shops saw their largest increase in seven years.  

Automobiles sales saw a major decline, which is largely blamed on the December cold snap.  Receipts at auto dealers fell almost two-percent.