Weak holiday sales disappoint retailers

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Retailers are looking for a post-Christmas surge after a weak holiday season buying. This year’s sales were the weakest since 2008.  

Weather is being cited as one of the factors, including Hurricane Sandy and last week’s snowstorm.  The distraction of the election in addition to the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut may have kept shoppers from spending more this year.

According to reports, holiday sales grew by just 0.7 percent in the eight weeks from the end of October through Christmas, the smallest gain since 2008. Earlier forecasts looked for a 3 or 4 percent gain.

Retail stocks dropped on Wednesday post Christmas, while the broader markets gained were up, after reports came about the disappointing holiday season sales.

Since the holiday shopping season was ho-hum for many retailers, and that could mean deeper than expected discounts at the registers.

ABC News spoke with retail industry analyst Marshal Cohen about the larger than expected store inventory.

 “They’ve got new merchandise coming in right behind it and they recognize that it’s really now about recouping what sales they’ve lost and the lack of excitement. So look for the sales to carry through for most of January but not much further than that,” says Cohen.

If sales don’t pick up this could spell economic trouble heading into 2013. November and December sales account for almost half of annual sales for many retailers.