NRF: Holiday sales to rise 4.1 percent in 2012

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by Laura Matovina

NEW YORK (AP) -- Americans are expected to spend more during what's traditionally the busiest shopping season of the year, but they're not exactly ready to shop `til they drop like they have been in the past two years.

The National Retail Federation, the nation's largest retail trade group, says that it expects sales during the winter holiday shopping period in November and December to rise 4.1 percent this year. That's more than a percentage point lower than the growth in each of the past two years, and the smallest increase since 2009 when sales were up just 0.3 percent.

The estimates also offer valuable insight not only for retailers but also for economists who closely watch consumer spending, which accounts for up to 70 percent of economic activity.

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