OTTAWA -- Statistics Canada says retail sales fell 1.8 per cent to $57 billion in December as the spread of the Omicron variant and severe flooding in British Columbia and the Atlantic provinces disrupted transportation, retail operations and sales.

The agency says sales were down in eight of 11 subsectors, representing 62.9 per cent of retail trade.

Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores were down 9.5 per cent while furniture and home furnishings stores recorded an 11.3 per cent drop in sales.

Statistics Canada says core retail sales -- which exclude gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers -- decreased 2.4 per cent

In volume terms, retail sales were down 2.5 per cent in December.

Statistics Canada says its preliminary estimate for January pointed to an increase in retail sales of 2.4 per cent for the month, but it cautioned the figure would be revised.