As I read it--and perhaps I'm just inferring, and the headline writer didn't mean to imply--this year's holiday sales were worse than last year's. After all, it's the weakest holiday season in years.
But what do we read a few paragraphs into the story?
Perkins, who tracks same-store sales at 43 retail chains, said combined November-December sales rose 1.7 percent, their weakest gain since 2002.
In the overall retail sector, Thomson Financial, which also compares monthly results at 43 of the nation's largest retail chains based on analysts' estimates, said total December same-store sales rose just 0.5 percent compared to its revised estimate for a 0.7 percent gain...
Even though November same-store sales rose a much better 4 percent overall, the average of the two months taken together showed a 2.3 percent rise, which Thomson said is the slowest pace of growth since 2004 when sales for the two months combined also rose 2.3 percent.
The National Retail Federation, the industry's largest trade group, expects total sales for November and December combined rose 4 percent this past holiday season, which would mark the slowest pace of growth since 2002.
So it appears that holiday sales actually grew from 2006 levels, just not as robustly as some expected. That means retailers sold even more stuff.
The headline is clearly misleading. Could it be yet another example of press bias? And why would the press, specifically left-leaning CNN, want people to think the retail economy is worse than it actually is?
Hmm, I wonder.