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Wall Street’s Late Christmas Gift?

Top U.S. retailers will give investors the most detailed picture yet of holiday spending this week as they report same store sales on Thursday.

Analysts expect a 1.3 percent increase from a year earlier at 30 retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters Data.

Meanwhile, just released data from Spendingpulse shows Online retailers, jewelers and consumer electronics retailers all saw sales gains last month.

The findings back up Wall Street's view that retailers were able to sell more merchandise without resorting to drastic discounts as many had to in late 2008 during the global financial crisis.

"In general what we had was a pretty decent holiday season, I think you saw sort of a cautious return to spending," says Kamalesh Rao, director of economic research at SpendingPulse.

However, the retail picture is not all wine and roses.

SpendingPulse data showed sales fell at apparel chains and department stores in December.

Also, it seems more affluent shoppers are spending more carefully. Family Dollar Stores said Wednesday it’s attracting shoppers with incomes of up to $70,000. In the past, their typical shopper made about half that.

What’s the retail trend to trade?

I think the trend to trade is the comeback in the high-end consumer, says Citi analyst Kimberly Greenberger. Spending among higher income consumers is driven by what’s happening in the stock market. And there’s usually a six month lag. So we’re now at the very beginning of the higher income consumer comeback.

As a result I’m bullish Tiffany and Coach . I think they likely both had really great holiday seasons, says Greenberger, and both stocks should have more upside.

Or you can play the other end of the spectrum, she adds. Look at TJX and Ross; they could surprise to the upside.

But steer clear of the middle. I’d either play the low end or the high end. It seems consumers are looking to shop at either one end of the spectrum or the other, but not in the middle.


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Trader disclosure: On January 6th, 2010, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders; Seymour Owns (AAPL), (AA), (BAC), (EEM), (F), (INTC), (TRINA); Seymour Is Short (PBR), (POT); Najarian Owns (BG) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (CLF) Calls; Najarian Owns (CLF); Najarian Owns (FCX); Najarian Owns (MS); Najarian Owns (SOLF) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (TCK) ; Najarian Owns (TJX); Terranova Owns British Pound Futures; Terranova Owns Copper Futures; Terranova Owns (BAC); Terranova Is Short (CMA); Terranova Works For (VRTS); Finerman Owns (AAPL), (RIG); Finerman's Firm Owns (BAC) Preffered; Finerman Owns (BAC) Preferred; Finerman's Firm Owns (MSFT), (PBR), (PDE), (RIG), (WMT), (PLCE) (TJX)

For Kimberly Greenberger
Citi Owns (ANF)
Citi Owns (ARO)
Citi Owns (LTD)
Citi Owns (GPS)
Citi Owns (JCG)
Citi Owns (PLCE)
Citi Has Received Compensation from (AEO)
Citi Has Received Compensation from (ANF)
Citi Has Received Compensation from (ANN)
Citi Has Received Compensation from (JCG)
Citi Has Received Compensation from (LTD)
Citi Has Received Compensation from (PLCE)
Citi Has Received Compensation from (TJX)
(PLACE) Has Been A Client of Citi in Past 12 Months
(LTD) Has Been A Client of Citi in Past 12 Months
(GPS) Has Been A Client of Citi in Past 12 Months

For Dennis Gartman
Gartman's Canadian Fund Owns (FAX)
Gartmans' Canadian Fund Owns (PGH)


CNBC.com with wires