Late sales made the holidays happy for chain store retailers

Sales at stores open at least a year rose 5.5% in the week ended Dec. 27, compared with the same period a year ago. Sales rose 2% over the week before, according to the ICSC-UBS Weekly U.S. Retail Chain Stores Sales Index.

“As we expected, shoppers waited to the very end of the season to make the bulk of their purchases,” Michael Niemira, International Council of Shopping Centers chief economist and director of research, said in a statement. “A late holiday surge before and after Christmas Day pushed retail sales up and essentially made the season for retailers.”

The ICSC projects December sales to climb by at least 4% over last year, Niemira said. The month started slowly and looked as if it would fall short of projections, but consumers stepped up their spending in the second half of the month.

The ICSC-UBS Weekly U.S. Retail Chain Store Sales Index measures nominal same-store or comparable-store sales excluding restaurant and vehicle demand. The weekly index is constructed using sales-weighted geometric average growth rates to preserve long-term consistency and is statistically benchmarked to a broad-based monthly retail industry sales aggregate that currently represents about 80 retail chain stores, which also is compiled by ICSC. A representative sample of those major retailers has been used as a control group to extrapolate the weekly sales index.