As stores offer steeper discounts to clear some of their unsold inventory, they may be able to soften some of the grim results reflected in Tuesday’s data.
Still, this season’s weak sales could have repercussions for next year, McNamara said. Retailers will make fewer orders to restock their shelves and discounts will hurt their profitability. Wholesalers, in turn, will buy fewer goods and orders to factories for consumer goods are likely to drop in the coming months.
Online sales, typically a bright spot, grew only 8.4 percent from Oct. 28 through Saturday last week, according to SpendingPulse. That is a dramatic slowdown from the online sales growth of 15 to 17 percent seen in the prior 18-month period, according to the data service.