Retailers are reporting surprisingly weak December revenue after a strong November pulled forward holiday spending and a blizzard in the Northeast took a bite out of sales after Christmas.
Analysts still expect spending in November and December to show the largest annual increase since 2006.
As merchants report their figures Thursday, many retailers including Target Corp., Costco Wholesale Corp. and Macy's Inc. reported gains that were below Wall Street expectations. Bon-Ton Stores Inc.'s sales were virtually flat and company officials blamed the severe snowstorms.
The figures are based on revenue at stores opened at least a year, a key measure of a retailer's health.