Shoppers flocked to stores on Super Saturday, boosting sales as the clock counted down to Christmas.
The Saturday before Christmas saw sales hit $23 billion, surpassing Black Friday's $20 billion this year, according to research firm Customer Growth Partners.
"Super Saturday was favored by the fact that it was an ideal five days prior to Christmas -- close enough to create a sense of urgency in shoppers, but not too close to conflict with most travel plans," said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners.
The entire weekend before Christmas raked in about $42 billion, up from $41 billion in the same period a year earlier, according to research firm Customer Growth Partners. The four-day Thanksgiving weekend, which covers Black Friday, still saw higher sales of $51 billion.
Retailers, which can earn up to 40% of annual revenue during the holiday season, are enjoying a last-minute boost as shoppers hustle to finish their gift buying, analysts said.
Many retailers saw robust sales in the week leading up to Super Saturday. Those seven days saw sales climb 3.1% from the same week a year ago, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.
"The late shopping surge should continue all the way through Christmas Eve," said Michael Niemira, the council's research consultant.
The retail industry has so far defied worries and reveled in strong consumer demand despite a lackluster Black Friday. November retail sales rose to $449.3 billion, up 0.7% from October.
Lower gasoline prices and a stronger job market have brightened people's moods and opened their wallets, analysts said. That's good news for the U.S., where consumer spending makes up two-thirds of economic activity.