Nordstrom said December sales at stores open at least a year rose 9. 3 percent, beating its forecast, as shoppers snapped up more shoes and purses during the holiday season. The better-than-expected same-store results...

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Nordstrom said December sales at stores open at least a year rose 9.3 percent, beating its forecast, as shoppers snapped up more shoes and purses during the holiday season.

The better-than-expected same-store results pushed the company’s stock up $1.44, or 3.2 percent, to $47.06 yesterday, the biggest gain in three months.

Another Seattle retailer, Starbucks, didn’t get the same reaction from Wall Street to its announcement yesterday after the market closed that December same-store sales rose 8 percent. That was below analysts’ expectations of a 9.8 percent gain, and the stock fell $2.30, or 3.9 percent, to $59.30 in after-hours trading.

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Nordstrom had been expecting a December sales increase in the “low single-digits,” spokeswoman Stephanie Allen said on a recorded message.

The company’s same-store sales rose 3.1 percent in November after climbing 7.8 percent on average the previous four months.

The upscale retailer didn’t revise its fourth-quarter profit forecast of 90 cents to 95 cents a share. Nordstrom had net income of $104.3 million, or 74 cents a share, in last year’s fourth quarter.

Total sales in the first two months of the latest quarter have risen 9.5 percent to $1.7 billion.

Nordstrom has benefited as higher-income shoppers seek out luxury items, Merrill Lynch analyst Daniel Barry wrote in a report.

Sweaters sold well, as did handbags, brooches, faux-fur-trimmed items and tops embellished with lace, spokeswoman Deniz Anders said.

Another local retailer, Bellevue-based Cost-U-Less, also reported strong sales yesterday.

The company, which operates warehouse club stores, reported same-store sales rose 11.5 percent for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 26. Same-store sales for the year grew 13.6 percent from 2003.

Sales figures excluded Cost-U-Less’ two Guam stores because one was closed due to typhoon damage.

Cost-U-Less’ total quarterly sales increased 13.8 percent to $57.4 million. Annual sales rose 18.3 percent to $209.4 million.

Cost-U-Less, which operates 11 stores in the Caribbean and Pacific, said it will open a new 38,000 square-foot store on St. Croix in the second quarter.

Information on Cost-U-Less was reported by Seattle Times business reporter Kristina Shevory.