Shoppers are skittish in 2012

@CNNMoney January 16, 2012: 9:44 AM ET

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 federation blamed a number of factors, including persistently high unemployment, stagnant wage growth, a weak housing market, shaky consumer confidence, inflation and high oil prices.

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 (SKS) fared very well, but discounters and stores geared toward cash-strapped shoppers in the middle and lower income brackets struggled.

Stores such as Target (TGT, Fortune 500) and Best Buy (BBY, Fortune 500) had to rely heavily on discounts and promotions to lure shoppers, which does not bode well going forward.

All those half-off sales will take a toll on margins, which were already narrower than they were a year ago because of the rising cost of materials and transportation. To top of page

Help! We need a makeover
Young dad, $15,000 in credit card debt
Readers' Choice

Carlos Rodriguez is trying to rid himself of $15,000 in credit card debt, while paying his mortgage and saving for his son's college education.

$400,000 portfolio, too many holdings
Readers' Choice

Susan Carson and Laura DeLallo make $225,000 and have half a million in retirement savings, but their sprawling portfolios is proving hard to manage.

Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.80%3.88%
15 yr fixed3.20%3.23%
5/1 ARM3.84%3.88%
30 yr refi3.82%3.93%
15 yr refi3.20%3.23%
Rate data provided
View rates in your area
Find personalized rates:
  • -->

    Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.