The Associated Press (AP) released some figures recapping the 2010 Holiday shopping season this week. Here are a few highlights: • The holiday shopping season was the best since 2006, as a strong November more than offset spending that tapered off in late December. “The overall season was good, but the strength came from the beginning of the season,” said Michael P. Niemira, chief economist at International Council of Shopping Centers. • From Oct. 31-Jan. 1, revenue at stores open at least a year rose 3.8 percent over last year, according to an index compiled by the International Council of Shopping Centers. That’s the biggest increase since 2006, when the measurement rose 4.4 percent. • Early holiday discounts, which started in late October, drove big sales early in the season but also had shoppers finishing more gift-buying before December. A lull early in December and a blizzard Dec. 26 in the Northeast also took bites out of sales. • December’s smaller increases underscore the challenges retailers face in getting shoppers back in the malls in the coming months when there are no holidays giving them reasons to spend. • Analysts say that the holiday 2010 season also marked the time that spending in many categories returned to pre-recession levels. Online spending, as well as spending on groceries, auto parts and clothing, are now above the pre-recession peak, according to MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse, which tracks all transactions including cash. • Jewelry, home furnishings and luxury goods are still below peaks, according to the data service. • Overall, department stores fared better than mall clothing chains.