WASHINGTON (

TheStreet

) -- Consumers are getting in the holiday spirit, as confidence spikes in December.

The Reuters/University of Michigan consumer confidence index surged to 73.4 in early December from 67.4 in November. Wall Street expected the index to rise to 69.

This is the highest level of confidence since September.

"Confidence improved in early December mainly due to widespread price discounting by merchants attempting to spark holiday sales, as well as somewhat more positive expectations for economic growth and employment," Richard Curtin, director of the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers, said in a statement.

Big-box retailers like

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

,

Target

(TGT) - Get Report

and

Best Buy

(BBY) - Get Report

offered alluring promotions Thanksgiving weekend to get shoppers in the mood to spend.

Earlier today, the Commerce Department said

retail sales rose 1.3% in November

, led up by autos and gasoline.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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