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Holiday Sales Growth Seen Slowing

PURCHASE, N.Y. — Fears of the so-called “fiscal cliff” and other factors appear to have slowed retail sales growth this holiday season, according to reports.

MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse here is estimating that retail sales in November and December were up 0.7% over last year, Bloomberg reported early Wednesday. That compared with 2% growth the SpendingPulse report indicated in 2011.

In addition to fears of economic hardship caused by Washington’s failure to resolve looming tax increases and spending cuts, sales were also slowed by the impact of Hurricane Sandy, which hit the nation’s most densely populated and highest-spending region in the Northeast.

Other sources that track retail spending reduced their estimates for holiday sales in the days leading up to Christmas, after rosy projections at the start of the season and what some said was a strong Thanksgiving weekend.

The International Council of Shopping Centers, citing its ICSC-Goldman Sachs chain store sales index, said last week that sales might have picked up somewhat following a spending lull in the two weeks following Thanksgiving. It estimated that sales rose 4.5% for the week ending Dec. 15, compared with the previous week.

The ICSC is scheduled to release a full report on the holiday season on Wednesday.

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