Retail sales increased 0.2 percent in December after a 0.4 percent advance in November that was smaller than previously reported, according to U.S. Commerce Department figures released today, Bloomberg reported. The median forecast of 86 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.1 percent gain. Excluding cars, demand jumped by the most in almost a year. "There is the hope that the momentum is going to continue and the good news will feed on itself," said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James & Associates Inc.