Holiday sales up 3.8 percent

Holiday sales up 3.8 percent

National retailers are posting a 3.8% increase in holiday sales, the highest jump since 2006.

Retail experts and economists say the jump in spending could signal higher consumer spending in 2011.

According to a survey at 32 retail chains compiled by the International Council of Shopping Centers, sales increased 3.8 percentĀ  over the 2009 holiday season. The retail index, which doesn't include web shopping or sales at Wal-Mart, showed that a 5.4 percent sales jump in November helped buoy a 3.1 percent uptick in December -- a slowdown experts blamed in part on East Coast snowstorms.

"Retail sales are inching their way up, there's not this excess demand out there," said Chris G. Christopher Jr., a senior principal economist with IHS Global Insight of Boston. "Consumer are not all gung-ho and buying things left and right. They're a little careful in what they're doing. My suspicion is, if retailers weren't doing all this price-cutting, sales wouldn't have been that strong."