Nonstore Retailers were up 12.7% from December 2016, while Building Materials and Garden Equipment and Supplies Dealers were up 9.9% from previous year.
Compared with a year ago, retail sales were also up in nearly every category, with some doing very well indeed.
Core retail sales - excluding automobiles and parts - grew 0.4%.
The gains by retail stocks came following the retail sales data as well as a report from the National Retail Federation showing stronger than expected holiday sales growth.
Building materials and supplies stores posted the biggest sales increases, rising by 8.1% over the previous year.
Many industry experts predicted this holiday season would be the best in a decade, fueled by higher consumer confidence, lower unemployment and increasing spending.
Retail sales had increased a revised 0.9% in November, and October sales growth also was revised higher. Still, tepid results from department stores and apparel retailers show that not every company will benefit from more shopper spending. Sales in restaurants and bars rose 0.7 percent, while department and general merchandise stores saw a more modest rise of 0.1 percent.
Retail sales during the holiday season rose 5.5% in 2017 to $691.9 billion, exceeding the National Retail Federations forecast of a 3.6%-to-4% increase.
Jeremy Andrus, chief executive officer at Traeger Grills, a Salt Lake City, Utah-based maker of wood pellet grills, said Traeger's fastest-selling grill shifted from an $800 model to a $1,000 model this holiday season as consumers showed a willingness to reach deeper into their pockets.
As a result, certain retail segments were particularly strong in December. Spending for the two months combined was the best since 2005.
Economists said a number of factors, including a growing economy and booming stock market, helped spur spending growth.
Department store chain Bon-Ton Stores, Inc., announced that its comparable-store sales for the nine-week holiday period decreased 2.9%, while sales declined 6.6% in the third quarter.
Gasoline-station sales were flat in December from the prior month, according to the Commerce Department report. Fluctuations in sales often reflect changes in gas prices, not volume. They advanced 4.2 percent in 2017 compared to 3.2 percent in 2016.
Sales were uneven across other categories last month. Sales at sporting goods and hobby stores fell by 1.6 percent, the largest decline seen since November 2016. Spending was up at furniture sellers, grocery stores and restaurants.