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U.S. holiday spending surges to 12-year high

Staff Writer |
U.S. holiday spending jumped 5.5 percent - its biggest gain since 2005 - spurred by stronger employment, the National Retail Federation said.

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Sales in November and December rose to $691.9 billion, compared with $655.8 billion the previous year, excluding sales at restaurants, automobile dealers and gasoline stations. The NRF previously forecast sales would rise 3.6 to 4 percent for the period.

Holiday sales can account for up to 40 percent of annual sales for some stores.

While strong sales were widely expected, many retailers were particularly hungry to prove themselves this past holiday season, following a year marred by tumbling stock prices, management shakeups, a slew of store closures and several industry bankruptcies.

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