Retail sales for the 2012 holiday season in US posted healthy returns but economic concerns continue to loom over traders heading into the New Year.

Sales for the holiday season posted a 3% increase, totaling $579.8bn, when compared to the corresponding period in 2011, said the National Retail Foundation.

Seasonally adjusted sales for the month of December also improved 2.1% over 2011 figures, albeit the increase was a marginal 0.8% compared to the earlier month of November.

Non-holiday sales for the year registered an impressive 11.1% increase.

Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores’ sales gained the most when compared to 2011 figures, as they posted a 4.7% increase.

NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay remarked that the uncertainty over the fiscal cliff and economic instability did have a considerable negative impact on consumer spending for the holiday season.

NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz added, "Heading into 2013, consumers could continue to think twice about their discretionary purchases as they face decreases in their paychecks and other concerns with their household budgets."

Health and personal care store and home furnishing outlet sales posted a 1.4% increase compared to November 2011 while general merchandise sales remained unchanged.