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ICSC: Last-minute holiday shopping gives 4.5% year-over-year lift

New York City -- A report released Wednesday by the International Council of Shopping Centers found that a last-minute shopping surge gave merchants a solid lift during the final week before Christmas.

According to the ICSC-Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Index, same-store sales rose 0.9% for the week ended Saturday compared with the previous week. That is also up 3.4% from the week before and up 4.5% over the same period a year ago.

The index serves as a sales proxy to 24 major retailers including Macy's Inc. and Costco Wholesale Corp.

"The downs and ups were much more accentuated," said Michael P. Niemira, chief economist, ICSC. "It just shows how cautious the consumer is. Consumers are bargain hunters more today than ever before."

For the week ended Nov. 26, which included Black Friday, stores had the biggest sales surge compared with the prior week since 1993. The cumulative two-week-sales drop-off that followed marked the biggest percentage decline since 2000. Then, during the final two weeks before Christmas, sales surged again, by the highest rate since 2005, according to the index. "The holiday season was good but uneven," Niemira said.

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