Stores across the U.S. fear the financial crisis
has many would-be shoppers staying home -- a worrisome sign for an economy
dependent on consumer spending.
Major U.S. retailers released their latest sales data (Wednesday), with many saying sales fell or failed to meet expectations in September.
The world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart, bucked the trend, reporting a more than two-percent increase in sales.
Still, two-thirds of U.S. economic activity is driven by consumer spending, and some economists say many stores could be headed for a slow holiday shopping season (between the end of November and Christmas), a time when many retailers depend on strong sales to make a profit for the year.
Meanwhile, a new report says that despite the credit crunch more Americans are buying homes.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) says a combination of foreclosures and affordable interest rates helped push sales of previously-owned homes seven percent higher in August, to the highest level in more than a year