Monday, November 29, 2004

Riffs on the holiday shopping season thus far are already suggesting that while the rich are continuting to live the high life, the American working class may finally be tapped out.
U.S. retail credit-card transactions rose more than 6 percent in the first weekend of the holiday shopping season. November sales at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. gained about 0.7 percent, less than forecast, sending the shares lower. . . .

Retail sales rose 11 percent on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, from a year earlier according to ShopperTrak, which estimates revenue based on customer traffic at about 30,000 stores. Optimism was tempered by results at Wal- Mart, the world's largest retailer, which predicted the month's same-store sales would rise from 2 percent to 4 percent.

"We're going to have a good holiday season but I do think we're going to have the tale of two consumers," said Deloitte & Touche USA Vice Chairman Tara Weiner in an interview in New York. "High oil and gas prices, health-care costs are weighing heavy on the lower-income consumer's budget."

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