A last-minute surge in spending may have saved Christmas for stores.
Shoppers, worried about jobs and the overall economy, pulled back on spending in June, resulting in tepid sales for many retailers.
Retailers are reporting surprisingly weak December revenue after a strong November pulled forward holiday spending and a blizzard in the Northeast took a bite out of sales after Christmas.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported a 9.3 percent increase in third-quarter net income as the world's largest retailer benefited from cost controls and a robust international business. The company also raised its full-year profit outlook.