ShopperTrak: Holiday sales better than expected

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NEW YORK (AP) — A research firm is confirming that stores had a respectable sales gain for the holiday shopping season compared with last year’s steep decline.

ShopperTrak says sales for November and December rose 1.7 percent and customer counts slipped 2.9 percent. That’s better than ShopperTrak’s predictions for a 1.6 percent sales gain and a 4.2 percent drop in traffic.

For the holiday 2008 season, sales fell 6 percent and traffic declined 15 percent.

ShopperTrak measures total retail sales at more than 50,000 outlets.

The final holiday data is in line with numbers released Thursday from International Council of Shopping Centers, whose index rose 1.8 percent for November and December.