U.S. retailers rang up their best holiday sales in six years, with the 2010 season's sales up 5.7 percent, according to the National Retail Federation.
The sales, which combine November and December's tallies, totaled $462 billion, the retail trade group said on Friday. The NRF had forecast a 3.3 percent increase.
In 2004, holiday sales rose 5.9 percent.
"While the worst appears to be behind us, we are not out of the woods yet," NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a statement. "This latest step-up in growth is a spark for increased business spending and hiring."
Sales at U.S. retailers climbed 0.6 percent in December, the Commerce Department said. That rise was weaker than expected.
Retail industry sales, which exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, rose 5.3 percent in December, the NRF said.