Holiday sales rose only .7% over the eight-week holiday sales period from October 28 through Christmas Eve.
This compares to a fall in holiday sales of 5.5% in 2008, a strong rebound in 2009 and 2010, and an increase of 2% in 2011 from that rebound.
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Early data for the 2012 holiday season indicate sales were about equal to 2011, indicating there was minimal, if any, increase.
Customer Growth Partners, a retail consulting firm, says that 2012 looks like the worst holiday sales season since 2009.
The slack sales extended even to online purchases, which have experienced double-digit growth over the past two years.
comScore, another research firm that studies online consumer buying patterns to project overall US buying behavior, shows that online sales rose 16% over last year—one percentage point lower than expected.
Retailers have been offering steep discounts of as much as 70% as a result to try to boost last minute sales and to encourage more buying as people return unwanted gifts.
Some retailers, including Sur La Table, bucked the trend and showed a strong finish
to the season.