We return to holiday trading with news that the annual hype via the financial media (stationed at parking lots throughout America to tell us how "wicked awesome" sales will be due to foot traffic and "lots of people are out on Black Friday"), has once again fallen flat on it's face. Retail sales are up 0.7% but that just about covers population growth and a tiny bit of inflation. Adjusted for both it's a negative number year over year. The usual suspects will be trotted out – superstorm Sandy, fiscal cliff worries, a lot of people glued to TV that critical last weekend due to the tragedy in Newton, etc etc. Truth be known it's just another data point in the "meh" economy.
- Sales in the two months before Christmas increased 0.7 percent, compared with last year. Many analysts had expected holiday sales to grow 3 to 4 percent.
- Online sales, typically a bright spot, grew only 8.4 percent from Oct. 28 through Saturday, according to SpendingPulse. That's a dramatic slowdown from the online sales growth of 15 to 17 percent seen in the prior 18-month period, according to the data service. Online sales make up about 10 percent of total holiday business.
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