Holiday Sales Up 3.6%
Online spending surge fuels modest recovery
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2009 3:29 AM CST
A person with bags in hand negotiates snow in the aftermath of a storm in Philadelphia, Monday, Dec. 21, 2009. The weekend before Christmas, snow closed malls and kept shoppers off treacherous roads.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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(Newser) – Retail holiday sales ticked up this year for a 3.6% improvement over 2008's disastrous showing. The modestly improved overall picture included a 15.5% surge in online shopping, thanks in part to snowstorms that stranded many shoppers at home the week before Christmas, as well as an almost 6% rise at specialty electronics chains, Reuters reports.

Wall Street bonuses and the stock market's 2009 rally pushed jewelry sales up 5.6%, while luxury sales, especially hard-hit last year, inched up 0.8%. "Last year the economy and consumer spending were in free fall. This year we're talking about an environment that has stabilized, that has seen a leveling off," a consumer spending expert says.