U.S. retail sales rose in the week before Christmas as shoppers hurried to finish their gift-buying, putting holiday sales on track to hit the high end of estimates, according to data released on Tuesday by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs.

Retail sales rose 4.8 percent for the week ended December 25 compared to the year-earlier period, helped in part by shoppers who could shop all day on Christmas Eve, which was a day off for many given that Christmas fell on a Saturday this year.

The ICSC and Goldman Sachs said retail sales in November and December were on track to rise 4 percent compared to a year ago. Two weeks ago, on the basis of strong November sales, they raised their forecast to a rise of between 3.5 percent and 4 percent for the holiday season.

That forecast includes the effect of the snowstorm that slammed U.S. Northeastern states this week and kept shoppers away from storms.

The ICSC's chief economist told Reuters the blizzard could lower December sales' increase by half of one percentage point but said it may simply delay some purchases into January.

Separately MasterCard's SpendingPulse said retail and services sales were up 5.5 percent for the period between November 5 and December 24, led by a surge in spending on clothes and jewelry.

The S&P Retail Index was down 0.1 percent. It recently hit a 3-1/2 year high on the strength of improving retail sales this year.

(Reporting by Phil Wahba, editing by Dave Zimmerman)