Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) said Saturday it still expects a 2 percent to 4 percent increase in January sales at its U.S. stores open at least a year.

On a recording detailing sales through Friday, the world's biggest retailer said comparative sales for food were stronger than those for general merchandise.

The East was the strongest region on the week. Higher average ticket sales drove the year-over-year comparisons, Wal-Mart said.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart will report on Feb. 3 its final sales figures for the five weeks of Jan 1. to Jan. 28.

Wal-Mart said that since the National Football League's (search) Super Bowl (search) falls on Feb. 6 this year, a week later than in 2004, pre-Super Bowl sales will not be included in January sales.

Also, the Sam's Club (search) warehouse stores were closed on Jan. 1 this year but in 2004 the New Year's holiday fell outside the comparable reporting period, it said.