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Retail spending

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rose last month

A last-minute surge in spending saved the holiday shopping season. Major retailers including Costco, Gap and Nordstrom posted better-than-expected sales in December. That comes as a relief for stores, which can ring up to 40 percent of their annual revenue in the last two months of the year. Americans spent cautiously early in the season but more freely in the final shopping days of the year.

Barnes & Noble

saw tepid sales

For Barnes & Noble, the digital future isn’t what it used to be. Eight months after affirming its commitment to build its business through its Nook division, the retailer announced holiday sales so disappointing that questions are being raised about the company’s ability to pull off the transformation from its traditional retail format. Retail sales fell to $1.2 billion, a 10.9 percent decline from the comparable nine-week holiday period in 2011.

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