January seems to be off to a positive start for U.S. retailers as consumers continue to redeem holiday gift cards. Weekly U.S. chain store sales increased by 0.7 per cent for the week ended Jan. 6, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers’ (ICSC) index. Year on year, sales rose 3.4 per cent, their strongest showing since Oct. 14, when they climbed 3.9 per cent.
Consumers taking advantage of post-holiday sales are behind the surprisingly good beginning of the year, says Michael P. Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist and director of research. Niemira says he expects that colder weather ahead will bring upbeat results for the month. “For January,” he said, “we expect comp-store sales to increase by 2.5 to 3 percent.”