Retail sales fell by 0.4 percent in December, as economic uncertainties put a damper on holiday shopping, the National Retail Federation reported this week.

Holiday sales, which include November and December sales combined, rose just three percent to $469.9 billion, the slowest pace in five years, the trade group said.

Clothing, furniture and home furnishing stores reported the weakest growth over the holidays.

"Economic pressures caused deterioration in the sales climate at the end of the year," Rosalind Wells, the group's chief economist, said in a statement. "Because holiday sales were disappointing, retailers will have to quickly adapt with pricing strategies and promotions that will encourage consumers to spend."

As a result of the declines, the group expects total sales to grow by just 3.5 percent in the year ahead, compared to 3.7 percent in 2007.