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The forecast for holiday sales is not looking good. Per DNR, Deloitte Research Chief Economist Carl Steidtmann weighs in: "Higher energy and food prices are making a dent in consumers’ wallets, and the dramatic drop in home mortgage refinancings has dried up a substantial source of discretionary funds...In addition, continued softness in the housing market, rising unemployment claims and a volatile stock market are negatively affecting consumers’ perceptions of the economy, their wealth and their ability to spend. In all, these factors will likely lead to a challenging holiday season.” The numbers: "a measly 2.5 percent to 3 percent increase in holiday season sales this year, less than last year’s 3.4 percent rise and one of the smallest gains since 1991, when sales increased a mere 2 percent." [DNR]