Late shopping surge ‘enough to save season’

? A late spending surge helped boost sales last week for many merchants, according to data released Monday, offering relief to retailers in a holiday season that is still projected to be only modestly better than a year ago.

Internet sales and consumer electronics were the winners, both rising strongly from a year ago, but sales at department stores and toy stores fell.

Unlike a year ago, when last-minute spending was insufficient to help retailers meet their holiday goals, this year’s finale was strong enough to offset December’s earlier weakness, according to Michael P. Niemira, chief economist and director of research at the International Council of Shopping Centers.

“I’m much more upbeat than I was a week ago,” said Niemira, who also serves as a consultant at ShopperTrak, which today will release data showing sales through this past Saturday. “The surge was late but it was enough to save the season.”