Sales at stores open at least a year for 24 major U.S. retailers rose 5.3% in the week ended Dec. 31 versus a year ago, reports ICSC-Goldman Sachs; December year-over-year sales growth estimate raised to 4%-4.5% from 3.5%-4%

NEW YORK , January 4, 2012 () – A U.S. mall trade group says a flurry of post-Christmas shopping helped sales surge in the last week of December.

Sales at stores open at least one year rose 5.3 percent during the week ended Dec. 31. That report comes from the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Index.

The ICSC-Goldman Sachs weekly index estimates sales for 24 major stores like Target and Costco.

Increased gift card use, mild weather and a federal holiday on Monday all contributed to the sales increase.

As a result of the Christmas-week surge, the group increased its December sales growth estimate to a 4 percent to 4.5 percent rise. Previously the council expected December sales to rise by 3.5 percent to 4 percent.

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