Republican Recession Watch: Retail Plummets

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Major indicator.

For retailers across the country, January will be one for the record books, although not in the way they had hoped.

Following an already dismal holiday season, discounters and specialty chains alike reported worse-than-expected results for the four-week period ended Feb. 2. The month goes down in history as the worst January on record for retailers since the International Council of Shopping Centers began tracking same-store sales among U.S. retailers in 1969. The industry association said sales across the U.S. grew a meager 0.5% year over year.

"With uncertainty about the economy and the possibility of a recession, consumers have pared their spending," said Michael Niemira, the council's chief economist and director of research. "Looking forward to February, we expect much of the same, as U.S. economic problems do not seem to be dissipating anytime soon."