In short, this year’s retail numbers have turned out, inevitably, to be uglier than anticipated.
Despite a Chinese official’s claims earlier today that the “US may be a "bright spot" for the global economy in 2013,” retail numbers from this holiday season may be far from, well, bright. Notwithstanding the fact that“U.S. economic growth accelerate(d) to 3.1 percent” in November (a fact belying an increase in inventory build, not structural increase in growth across the country), the American consumer is (and has been recently) skeptical, with confidence falling in December to a five-month low.
Consequently, while retailers banked this year on a rebound holiday season to make up for a dismal 2012 (after all, “holiday sales are a crucial indicator of the economy's strength. November and December account for up to 40 percent of annual sales for many retailers), it looks like the American consumer thought and spent and behaved otherwise.