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      Holiday shopping increases

      NEW YORK (AP) -- A research firm is reporting that holiday sales spiked for the latest week ended Saturday compared with the previous week.

      ShopperTrak, a Chicago-based research firm, says that total sales rose 21.7 percent from the previous week and 1.3 percent over the same week a year earlier.

      Sales from Nov. 1 through Saturday are up 2.5 percent, according to ShopperTrak. The research firm is counting on the final surge before Christmas to meet its growth forecast of 3.7 percent compared with a year ago.

      ShopperTrak measures foot traffic in 25,000 stores in the U.S. and blends those figures with economic data along with proprietary sales figures from merchants. The data excludes sales from automotive dealers, gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores.

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