Consumer spending up, but challenges for retailers remain

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Analysts are again using words like “robust” to describe this just-finished holiday shopping season. Consumer spending jumped 5.5% year-over-year during the period, including a 15.4% increase in e-commerce spending, according to MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse. Consumer spending on apparel was up 11.2%, and the men's apparel category improved year-over-year by 10.5%.

Last year, overall sales increased 4.1% over dismal 2008 numbers.

However, The Wall Street Journal warned that retailers will still face a number of challenges in 2011, from “rising gasoline and cotton prices to an overabundance of stores.”

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