The nation's largest retail trade group says holiday spending rose a better-than-expected 5.5 per cent, the strongest gain since the Great Recession.
The National Retail Federation said Friday holiday sales reached $691.9 billion as shoppers stepped up their spending in the wake of a better economy. The results beat the group's original growth projections of 3.6 per cent to 4 per cent, and it marked the largest increase since the 5.2 per cent gain in 2010.
Online shopping, which is included in the results, increased 11.5 per cent.
The overall figure exclude sales from autos, gas and restaurants but includes non-store sales like those from catalogues.
The news comes as the government reported that retail sales rose 0.4 per cent last month, after a 0.9 per cent surge in November.
Many retailers reported solid holiday sales gains.