Sharp Increase in Holiday Sales Reported

December 20, 2011 - 8:15 AM
Holiday Shopping Black Friday

FILE - In this Nov. 25, 2011 file photo, shoppers grab televisions at a store in Knoxville, Tenn., minutes after it opened. Plenty of Americans are having to hold back this year as the lure of flashy ads, tempting bargains and family expectations clashes with the realities of the economy. Experts in consumer behavior say that situation can strain the brain. Scientists say we are to some extent wired for shopping. It seems to tap into circuits that originally spurred our ancestors to go out looking for food, says Brian Knutson, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Stanford University. (AP Photo/The News Sentinel, Wade Payne)

NEW YORK (AP) — A trade group for U.S. malls is reporting a sharp increase in sales for the week that ended Saturday, but shoppers are still behind in holiday buying compared with a year ago.

Sales at stores opened at least a year rose 3.4 percent for the week ended Saturday, compared with the previous week, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Index, released Tuesday. The increase followed two consecutive weekly declines, as shoppers took a break after a record spending spree over the Thanksgiving weekend, the official start of the holiday shopping season.

Sales for the recent week rose 4.6 percent compared with a year ago.

The weekly index is a sales proxy for 24 major stores, including Target Corp, Costco Wholesale Corp. and Macy's.