NEW YORK — The holiday season was a major bust for many general merchandise retailers, as consumers chose to spend the money they have been saving from lower gas prices to buy groceries or put away in savings, according to reports. The International Council of Shopping Centers here last week said sales at the nation's chain retailers during the week that ended Dec. 27 were down 1.8% compared with a year ago, capping what it said was the worst seasonal sales performance for retailers in ...

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