NEW YORK — Retail sales will improve steadily throughout the year after a slowdown at the end of 2006 carries over into the early part of 2007, according to a forecast by the National Retail Federation at the NRF Convention and Expo here last week. NRF projected retail sales — excluding auto sales and sales at gas stations and restaurants — would improve by 4.8% overall in 2007, following a gain of 6.3% in 2006. Last year consumer spending started out strong before high energy costs, weak ...

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