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Holiday sales meet expectations after deep discounting

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Holiday sales rose 3.8 percent from last year, a major retail trade organization said Tuesday, spurred by deep clothing discounts and the convenience of shopping online.

The figure came in just shy of the group's forecast of a 3.9-percent increase.

The National Retail Federation said Tuesday that retail sales for November and December combined totaled $601.8 billion, according to the federation's analysis of government data.

The 2013 increase is bigger than last year's 3.5 percent. But sales came at the expense of profit as stores had to discount early and often to get shoppers to buy in an economy that is still challenging for many.

A slew of major retailers including American Eagle Outfitters, and Pier 1 Imports have slashed their profit forecasts.

January is off to a slow start for retailers. On Monday, Express Inc. cut its fourth-quarter profit prediction, citing a slower-than-expected holiday shopping season and also weak store traffic in January.

Retailers' fiscal year typically ends in late January or early February to include the pre-Christmas and post-Christmas season.

The announcement from the National Retail Federation follows the Commerce Department's release on Tuesday of broader sales figures for December.

Total retail sales rose just 0.2 percent last month, according to the Commerce Department. That follows strong gains in October and November, helped by healthy auto sales.

The figures showed that Americans bought more clothing in December, clicked frequently at online retailers and paid higher gas prices. They cut back on cars and almost everywhere else.

The holiday sales results from the National Retail Federation include online sales, but exclude sales at automotive dealers, gas stations and restaurants.

This week, thousands of retail executives are in New York for the federation's annual convention. They're hoping to come up with strategies to respond to shoppers' shift to researching and buying on computers and mobile devices.

They're also trying to create better solutions to thwart security credit card breaches in the wake of the massive theft at Target Corp., which is the second-largest credit card theft behind one at TJX Cos.

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  1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

  2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

  3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

  4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

  5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.

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