U.S. holiday retail sales this year grew at the weakest pace since 2008, when the nation was in a deep recession. In 2012, the shopping season was disrupted by bad weather and consumers' rising uncertainty about the economy.
Most forecasts expect February will show 3% growth or better over the same time last year when major merchants report monthly tallies on Thursday. One things seems clear: Higher-end households were more willing to spend than lower- and middle-income ones.
Shoppers didn't disappoint merchants, buying presents at both low- and high-end prices, from jewelry to shoes. Most analysts predict sales will show year-over-year increases of 3% to 4% on Thursday, when major chains post December figures and holiday totals.