NEW YORK (AP) -- A last-minute shopping surge helped holiday sales wrap up better than expected, according to one measure. But stores had to discount heavily to lure shoppers.
ShopperTrak, which tracks data at 40,000 stores in the U.S., said that sales for the November and December months combined rose 2.7 percent to $265.9 billion. That was better than the data service's 2.4 percent forecast for the season but below the 3.0 percent gain seen in 2012.
The number of customers in stores dropped 14.6 percent from last year for November and December combined.
After a decent performance in November, sales at stores had been weak for most of December as shoppers held back for the best deals in a still-challenging economy.