Worst Christmas shopping season since 2008

Washington played the Grinch that stole Christmas this year as the partisan impasse over the budget deficit instilled fear that the nation will fall over the “fiscal cliff,” dashing consumer holiday spirits and spending.

In this Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, file photo, shoppers push a cart with merchandise at a Walmart Supercenter store in Little Rock, Ark. U.S. holiday retail sales this year are the weakest since 2008, after a shopping season disrupted by storms and rising uncertainty among consumers.   (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

In this Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, file photo, shoppers push a cart with merchandise at a Walmart Supercenter store in Little Rock, Ark. U.S. holiday retail sales this year are the weakest since 2008, after a shopping season disrupted by storms and rising uncertainty among consumers. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

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