A better than expected Christmas season would do a lot to lift worries hanging over the economy. But with credit tight, unemployment high and consumers who have jobs saving more, some worry retail sales will disappoint. That could cause additional problems for retailers and companies that make the products they sell.
Since consumer spending accounts for about 70% of the nation's economic activity, healthy retail sales are the key to a strong rebound. "If consumers get unexpectedly scared of buying at Christmas, we could go back into recession," said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's.