The ICSC's weekly sales index was up 0.3% for the week ended Saturday compared to the previous week, and rose 2.8% compared to the year-ago period. The index is based on same-store sales, or sales at stores opened at least a year--and is considered the industry standard for a retailer's health.
After a robust start to the holiday season, many stores struggled with disappointing business in December, and a shopping surge in the final days before Christmas wasn't strong enough to make up for lost sales.
"This past week, consumers provided retailers with some additional cheer as they began to cash in their gift cards," said Michael P. Niemira, chief economist at International Council of Shopping Centers, in a statement. Still, he noted that the day after Christmas, sales were off by about a fifth from the corresponding day a year ago, because Dec. 26--unlike last year--was not a federal holiday.