In the countdown to Christmas, packed malls and long checkout lines indicate that U.S. consumers have been willing to come out and spend, at least when retailers offered deep bargains.

“This past weekend was a great contributor, with steady traffic on both Saturday and Sunday,” said Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak, which tracks mall traffic.

Apparel sales have risen 9.8% from the beginning of the season through mid-December, with women’s clothing up 4.4% and men’s rising 8.4%, according to the SpendingPulse unit of MasterCard Inc., which measures all forms of payments.

Jewelry sales have risen 2.6%, and other luxury items like leather goods are up 2.8%. But sales of consumer electronics have inched up only 0.4%, well below 2009’s rise of 4.4%. Deep discounting of flat-screen TVs s played a role in the softer number.

This past weekend, it didn’t hurt that many retailers were pulling out the big guns, with some, like Aéropostale Inc., sailing past the half-off mark for merchandise, while others, including GapInc. were offering 30% or more off virtually all merchandise in their stores.

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