NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The economy may be showing signs of improvement, but consumers are still skittish about shopping, according to a recent report.
Retail sales are expected to rise just 3.4% to $2.53 trillion in 2012, the National Retail Federation said Monday. That's below 2011's pace, in which sales grew 4.7% over the course of the year.
The forecast comes on the heels of a modestly successful holiday season in which retail sales rose 4.1%. That was above the retail group's expectation, but still lower than the 5.2% increase notched in 2010.
Although retailers declared the shopping season a success overall, strong sales were not shared across the board. Luxury stores such as Saks ( ) fared very well, but discounters and stores geared toward cash-strapped shoppers in the middle and lower income brackets struggled.
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