WASHINGTON (MNI) – The following is the commentary from the
ICSC-Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Snapshot released Tuesday:

With only a few more weeks left in the 2010 holiday-shopping season
consumers finally got into the spirit with the traditional last minute
holiday rush beginning to build. Overall, for the week ending December
11, weekly retail sales rose modestly by 0.8 percent, according to the
ICSC-Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Index. In addition, retail
sales, on a year-over-year basis, also improved and rose by 3.1 percent.

“Sales rose both on a year-over-year and on a week-over-week basis
as consumers stepped up their holiday gift purchases with the
ICSC-Goldman Sachs Consumer Tracking Survey showing that the average
holiday-gift completion rate rose from 40.1 percent last week up to 56.6
percent this week,” said Michael Niemira, ICSC director of research and
chief economist. “That is a rather impressive increase over the past
two weeks, but consumers are still a tad below last year’s pace and
noticeably below two-years ago, which suggests a stronger late-buying
rush over the next two weeks,” Niemira added.

For December, ICSC Research anticipates the month will post a good
performance with a year-over-year comparable-store sales growth increase
of between 3.0 to 3.5 percent, industry-wide. Given the strong November
performance and promising trends in early December, ICSC is revising its
November-December holiday-season sales forecast upward by 0.5 percentage
points to a range of 3.5 to 4.0 percent. Holiday store-sales growth is
still expected to be the strongest since at least 2006.

** Market News International Washington Bureau: 202-371-2121 **