Sales at US apparel retailers continued to accelerate in the first half of December, gathering speed on November's gains and adding more hope of a strong holiday season.

Total apparel sales so far are up 9.8% for the season-to-date compared with the same period last year, according to MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse, which tracks US retail and service sales.

Women's Apparel sales are up 4.4% in the period from 31 October to 11 December, with the category recording a slightly better showing since Black Friday. Men's apparel sales grew 8.4% year-over-year, and growth in the teen and family apparel segments is described as "strong."  

"The modest growth we first saw with the August back-to-school season has accelerated," notes Michael McNamara, vice president of MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse. "These results suggest that retail spending continues to gain traction."