Wal-Mart has predicted a stronger-than-expected 2.2% rise in same-store sales, driven by the redemption of holiday gift cards.

The world's largest retailer had previously forecast comparable sales growth of between 1% and 2% compared with January last year, when sales increased 4.7%.

"Our stores and marketing were well positioned for traffic in the days after Christmas, as shoppers began to come in to spend their gift cards," Eduardo Castro-Wright, head of Wal-Mart's US stores division, said after the company reported its December sales figures.

Wal-Mart has seen lacklustre sales growth throughout the second half of the year, with store remodelling projects disrupting customers and the introduction of new fashionable merchandise being met with mixed results. US December same-store sales rose 1.6%, while in November they declined 0.1%.