Did Cash-Strapped Americans Keep These Retailers From Cheering?

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The holiday shopping season is failing to give many retailers a reason to cheer. With the economy wrapped in high unemployment levels and stagnant wage growth, about one in four Americans spent less than expected during the holidays.

According to a new survey from Bankrate.com, 26 percent of Americans came in under their estimated budget, while only 14 percent spent more than expected. Younger people were more likely to overspend, but no single age group collectively spent more than expected. Households with an annual income of $75,000 or more were the only consumers to be more inclined to have spent more rather than less during the holiday season: 23 percent spent more than expected, compared to only 11 percent of those who made $30,000 or less.

“The U.S. economy has definitely carried some momentum into 2014, but it’s still a slow-growth economy with high unemployment and stagnant household income,” said Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate.com’s senior financial analyst. “Consider that the economy has hit a rough patch each year of the recovery, usually in the first half of the year, and has underperformed the Fed’s estimates year-in and year-out. I expect similar results in 2014.”

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