The holiday season was a heck of a party for retailers, but consumers are now nursing a shopping hangover that will keep them out of the nation's stores in January and February. "Now that those credit card bills are hitting mailboxes, shoppers will cut back in a very significant way," said Britt Beemer of America's Research Group.
Much to retailers' surprise, old man winter didn't deter consumers from the post-holiday clearance sales. Merchants posted better-than-expected January results despite the dreadful weather that had caused many analysts to cool their forecasts.
Private employers added 187,000 jobs in January, ADP announced Wednesday, 47,000 more then economists had predicted. That marks the fourth straight month of significant job gains -- a trend that suggests the U.S. labor market is recovering.