U.S. retail sales at discount, chain and department stores rose in the latest period, but the upcoming spring shopping season may be slow as some stores make a gradual transition to bring in new merchandise, Instinet Research said in its weekly report on Tuesday. 

The Redbook Retail Sales Average rose 4.0 percent in the first three retail weeks of January compared with December 2001. Year-over-year sales in the week ended Jan. 26 rose 1.5 percent, while month-to-date sales compared to January 2001 rose by 1.6 percent. 

``Sales were moderately better than the previous week,'' Redbook said in its report, adding its sales model remained ahead of plan. Retailers were focusing on inventory clearance and moving in spring merchandise this month, the report said. 

The Redbook Retail Sales Average is a sales-weighted average of annual growth in same-store sales at discount, department and chain stores that report their results on a weekly basis. The average is compiled from a sample of general merchandise retailers representing about 9,000 stores. Same store sales measure revenues at stores open at least a year. 

The Redbook Average is released weekly by Instinet Research, a division of Instinet, a Reuters-owned electronic brokerage.