I'm not sure I even believe the official numbers -- too many ways to manipulate. Too many ways to hide the unprofitability of higher sales masking lower margins.
Anyway, from todays Wall Street Journal, by way of the Shelf Awareness blog:
General Retail Sales in December: Gain Is Less than Expected"General retail sales last month were up, but did not meet expectations as the "holiday shopping season finished weaker than it started for store chains ranging from Target Corp. to Gap Inc., thwarting hopes that leading retailers would raise profit forecasts from strong sales," the Wall Street Journal reported."
I know, it's about "expectations" -- but I'm telling you, things weren't anywhere near as rosy in the real world as they were trumpeting just one week ago.
I guess they do this to try to reassure the public -- don't stampede them, folks.