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Gift Cards, Last-minute Deals Boost Chain Store Sales
WASHINGTON (1/2/14)--A measure of consumer spending ended the year on the up for the third consecutive week, according to a report released New Year's Eve.
 
The International Council of Shopping Centers' Weekly Chain Stores sales index increased by 1% for the week ending Dec. 28. The measure was also 3% higher on a year-over-year basis, and its four-week moving average was at 2.3%.
 
Boosting year-end sales were Christmas Eve discounts and record gift-card purchases. The proportion of retailers offering Dec. 24 promotions was higher in 2013--21% compared to 17% in 2012. Gift-card purchases also accounted for 23.7% of total holiday spending, which, Moody's analysts said, should prolong the holiday shopping season to the end of January (Economy.com Dec. 31).
 
The research firm's analysts pointed out that department stores had the largest gains, while electronics retailers' numbers were weak.
 
Weather, they said, wasn't much of a factor last week, with snow and ice only in parts of New England and the Midwest.
 
In 2013, retail discounts overall averaged 30%--an increase from 25% in 2012, according to Moody's, which expects 3% to 4% sales growth in December.


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