NEW YORK (AP) - It looks like retailers will have to work extra hard to keep this holiday season from turning into a bah humbug.
A new forecast shows sales will likely not be as high as last year and that shoppers won't be hitting the stores as much.
The retail analyst ShopperTrak expects sales for the November and December period to rise 3 percent this year. That would be below last year's 4.1 percent sales rise.
The forecaster also expects shoppers will visit the stores less frequently.
Shoppers have been cautious about spending this year amid uncertain economic conditions, rising gas prices and high unemployment. This means many consumers are still seeking out bargains, buying need-based goods over discretionary items and curtailing purchases for themselves.