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2012 Holiday Sales Numbers Lower Than Expected

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The shopping season is over, the gifts are unwrapped and now stores are analyzing the number of sales this year. Unfortunately, it's not good.

Rochelle Ritchie has more on why.

According to analysts, this year's holiday sales grew at a slower pace since 2008 and they're blaming it on talks of an unstable financial future.

Despite all the dollars spent and credit cards swiped, economic analysts say this year's shopping season didn't come close to beating last year's numbers. In fact, sales dropped.

"You can see the difference from five years ago," said shopper Jason Alexander.

A three to four percent increase in consumer spending was expected this year. Instead sales grew by less than one percent. That's just pennies compared to 2011, which saw a four to five percent increase.

What did do better this year?

Online shopping increased by 16 percent.

"I did do a lot of online shopping, too. That was great for me this year," said Tamika Collins, shopper.

Shoppers say fewer people in the stores may have been bad for business but good for consumers.

"I saw less people, which was why there were less lines," said Sheree McDougald.

With sales down nationally, analysts predict consumers could see steeper discounts through January.

Some Towson Town Center shoppers are already taking notice.

"I compared the same stores that I went in before Christmas and the prices are lower and there is more off, so the sales will definitely go up," said Kim Holder, shopper.

Retailers are not surprised by the numbers, especially with the uncertainty of the economy.

"Not with the big financial cliff where it's being thrown out all the time. I think people were anticipating it a little bit," said Paul Brenner, Lush.

While the news sounds bad, some stores say they came out on top and are expecting to make up for sales not made before Christmas.

"We've had a lot of exchanges and a lot of gift certificates being used, so it's been big business today," said Angela Schultz. Pandora.

Analysts say shoppers spent $7 billion the day after Christmas.

Sales declined significantly in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic because of Superstorm Sandy.

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