And why not? A nation that loves to spend has plenty to feel good about, with low unemployment and a robust stock market. The season's tally should reach $671 billion, a "stellar" 5.5 percent increase from last year, according to Craig Johnson, head of research firm Customer Growth Partners. That would be the most since 2005, according to his calculations.
The timing of Christmas didn't hurt, either, with a full weekend for procrastinators to redeem themselves. But signs of success were present all along, including rising demand for home goods and electronics. Johnson boosted his holiday forecast earlier this month, and he notes that retailers didn't have to resort to last-minute markdowns to draw shoppers. They were already coming in via the digital or brick-and-mortar doors.
Sales through Christmas Eve were about $598 billion, Johnson said in an interview with Bloomberg Radio. He said he expects another $73 billion to come this week.
Holiday sales estimates gave a lift to department stores shares on Tuesday. J.C. Penney Co. rallied as much as 9.6 percent to $3.44 in New York, its biggest intraday gain in more than six weeks. Macy's Inc. climbed as much as 5.5 percent and Kohl's rose 6.4 percent.
—Lauren Coleman-Lochner, Bloomberg News