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December Retail Stores See 3.5% Rise

December Comparable Store Sales Growth Compared for the Last Six Years
Not seasonally adjusted year/year % change. Source: ICSC; Chart: BMM

NEW YORK CITY — U.S. chain-store sales rose by 3.5% on a year-over-year basis according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).For the two month holiday period (Nov.-Dec.), chain store sales rose by 3.3%, which is in line with ICSC's forecast.

"There was a lot of unevenness across the segments in December which curbed growth, but looking at the month from an overall standpoint the performance was good relative to its long term trend," said Michael P. Niemira, vice president of research and chief economist for ICSC. "Unfavorable weather throughout the holiday shopping season was cited by many apparel retailers as a reason for softer demand, which ultimately led to an increase in discounting and some profit warnings. Additionally, our surveys suggest that gift-card purchases were higher this season, which may have limited the December performance, but bodes well for future demand."

ICSC expects that January sales will increase by approximately 3.0%.

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