U.S. retailers have been reporting unimpressive sales data for the key Chirstmas holiday shopping period - but gift cards may boost lackluster sales.
Wal-Mart, the top retailer in the United States, says December sales at established stores are falling within its modest forecast range of one to three percent.
But strong sales of gift cards - shopping certificates to be given as gifts - make retailers hopeful for a post-holiday shopping rush.
The National Retail Federation is forecasting gift card sales of more than 17 billion dollars for the holiday season, about eight percent of total sales in holiday shopping.
Meanwhile, online retailer Amazon.com said it has logged its busiest selling season in its ten-year history.
Some information for this report provided by AP, Reuters.