Retailers Report Dismal December Sales

**FILE** This Nov. 22, 2008 file photo shows shoppers pushing their carts through the toy aisles at the Costco in Cranberry, Pa., Butler County. With holiday sales shaping up to be the lowest in years, possibly the worst since the industry began annual comparisons in 1969, retailers say they're taking consumers' demands for good deals seriously. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

NEW YORK (AP) - Retailers are reporting dismal sales for
December, confirming fears that the holiday season was the weakest
in four decades.
As merchants report their sales figures Thursday, the big
exceptions to the gloom were discounters and warehouse clubs.
Sears Holdings Inc., which operates Kmart and Sears stores, and
Limited Brands Inc. are among the many stores that are reporting
steep declines in sales at stores opened at least a year. Shoppers,
grappling with tightening credit and rising layoffs, focused on
smaller purchases and the deepest discounts.
But Costco Wholesale Corp. is reporting a 4 percent gain when
the effect of lower gas prices is excluded.

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