It still won't look a lot like Christmas for retailers this year.
Retail sales during the crucial November-December period are projected to fall 1%, to $437.6 billion, from the same period in 2008, the National Retail Federation said in its holiday forecast to be released today.
That's bad, but not quite so dismal as the 3.4% drop last year, the trade group said.
"The expectation of another challenging holiday season does not come as news to retailers," said Tracy Mullin, the group's president. "Retailers' focus on the holiday season has been razor-sharp, with companies cutting back as much as possible on operating costs in order to pass along aggressive savings and promotions to customers."
The 2008 holiday season was the weakest in four decades, despite some of the most drastic markdowns ever seen. Several major retailers called it quits afterward.