Revenue at stores open at least a year rose 0.9 percent for the week ended Saturday compared with the previous week. That is also up 3.4 percent from the week before, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs (GS) Weekly Chain Store Sales Index.
Revenue at stores opened at least a year for the week ended Saturday rose 4.5 percent compared with the same period a year ago. The index serves as a sales proxy to 24 major stores including Macy's (M) and Costco Wholesale (CSCO).
"The downs and ups were much more accentuated," said Michael P. Niemira, chief economist at the council. "It just shows how cautious the consumer is. Consumers are bargain hunters more today than ever before."
For the week ended on Nov. 26, which included the traditional start of the holiday shopping season on the day after Thanksgiving, stores had the biggest sales surge compared with the prior week since 1993, according to the ICSC-Goldman Sachs weekly index. 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, Niemira says.
ICSC expects that holiday sales for the November and December combined will be in line with its forecast of 3.5 percent.
A fuller holiday spending picture will come Jan. 5, when stores including Target (TGT) and Macy's will release December sales figures.