Dismal Holiday Sales for 2012

Shen Hong / Xinhua / Landov

Bargain-hunters crowd Macy's in New York, the United States, Nov. 25, 2011, on "Black Friday", the traditional start of the U.S. holiday shopping season.

Hard times, fewer presents under the tree. Analysts are calling the 2012 holiday-shopping rush the slowest spending growth since the 2008 recession. Between the end of October and Christmas Eve retail sales for the season rose a mere 0.7 percent from last year, according to MasterCard’s research unit, SpendingPulse. SpendingPulse’s vice president of research called it “a lost season.” Hurricane Sandy was one factor suppressing growth, but even online sales registered lackluster gains.