December retail sales suffer due to unemployment, blizzard

Laura Donovan Contributor
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Several top U.S. retailers missed Wall Street’s high expectations for December sales as a paralyzing post-Christmas blizzard on the East Coast slowed what had been a two-month shopping spree.

Analysts are expecting an average rise of 3.4 percent in December sales at stores open at least a year for the 28 major retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters. That would cap the best holiday season since before the recession.

The results could signal a welcome boost for consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of the U.S. economy, but now that Christmas is over, shoppers seem poised to put their wallets away.

“I want money in my bank account and my 401k back to where it used to be,” said Patricia Welcoy, a legal assistant shopping on Wednesday in Manhattan and toting a T.J. Maxx bag.

Unemployment is still hovering just below 10 percent, and efforts by Americans to pay down high household debt loads are limiting their ability to shop as often as they once did.

Full story: December retail sales dented by blizzard, frugality