Sales at US retailers saw an unexpected fall in December, casting uncertainty over the recovery of the US economy. Retail sales fell by 0.3% compared with November, figures from the US Commerce Department said.

Sales of electrical goods and cars saw some of the biggest falls, though core sales – which exclude cars, fuel and building materials – still fell.

Concerns over job security are expected to continue to restrict spending, with unemployment still at 10%. Many economists expect unemployment to keep rising until the middle of the year.

December’s figures end a tough year for US retailers, with total sales for 2009 down 6.2% on the previous year.

But sales were expected to have been stronger, given the string of retailers reporting positive results for the festive season. The weaker-than-expected retail figures will add to concerns over the strength of the recovery in the US economy.

In December, the US unexpectedly cut a further 85,000 jobs after seeing some job creation in November.