U.S. chain store sales edged higher in the latest week, possibly because of gift card redemptions, according to a report Tuesday.

Sales rose 0.3 percent in the week ended Jan. 21 after falling sharply by 1.4 percent the previous week, according to the report produced by the International Council of Shopping Centers and UBS Securities LLC.

The ICSC also said sales were up 3.3 percent last week versus the same year-earlier week. In the previous week sales were up 3.1 percent versus the same week a year ago.

"This past week the sales pace improved slightly ... despite the renewed worries from higher fuel prices and some recent and large announced job layoffs," said Michael P. Niemira, ICSC's chief economist.

Niemira said gift card redemptions were a possible explanation.

"January sales continue to hold up and we now expect industry same-store sales will rise by approximately 3.5 percent, on a year-over-year basis for January," Niemira added.