Sales this holiday season were up only 0.7% vs. a year ago, according to MasterCard Advisors Spending Pulse as reported by Bloomberg.  Superstorm Sandy and declining consumer confidence were cited as causes, with a weak finish to the season.  Fiscal cliff concerns may have contributed to the declining consumer confidence.
Other sources were reporting stronger year-over-year growth, but none may have the breadth of information that MasterCard provides.  ShopperTrak estimated holiday sales up 2.5%.  The National Retail Federation expected sales to end up 4.1%. 
Geek culture stores had a better holiday season.  Comics (see "Comics Down but Up in November") and hobby games (see "Fantastic Summer for Hobby Games") have been on a tear this year, and there’s little indication that the trend reversed at the end of the year.