Sales receipts rose 4.3 percent week to week and 3.5 percent from the same week of 2011, the International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs weekly consumer tracking survey indicated.
The trade group said the week "launched the second wave of the 2012 holiday-shopping season."
Gains were posted by department stores, discount outlets and dollar stores. Internet sales were also "strong," ICSC said.
An annual survey taken in November and December also revealed 64.9 percent of respondents indicated they had not completed their holiday gift buying.
While an increase from 51 percent in the previous week, during the same week of 2011, 70.3 percent of shoppers surveyed indicated they still had gifts to buy.