said Christmas went roughly as expected this year, with December same-store sales expected to climb by a rate in the middle of its 1% to 3% year-over-year range.
The estimate continued a 2004 holiday trend in which higher-end outlets generally performed better than discounters. Wal-Mart closed Thursday at $52.55, about $1.50 above its 52-week low.
"We saw strength in both food and general merchandise sales for the week," Wal-Mart said in a statement on its Web site. "Sales of gift cards are up significantly over last year. The West was the strongest region and customer traffic drove the comp sales this week."
The world's largest retailer was apparently bailed out in the holiday denouement, with sales on Sunday "over our plan."
Wal-Mart's December reporting period goes from Nov. 27 to this Friday, Dec. 31.