The August start of the back-to-school shopping season was a disappointment for major retailers, giving the industry a third straight month of tepid sales. Higher gasoline prices and consumers' ongoing worries about jobs contributed to the poor showing.
As storeowners reported their monthly results Thursday, the discouraging news came from all sectors, though discounters and wholesale club operators like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Costco Wholesale Corp. were particularly hard-hit.
Wal-Mart, usually the industry leader, suffered its weakest performance in more than 3 1/2 years.
The big exceptions were high-end stores whose well-heeled customers have been the first to benefit from the economic recovery and have not been as vulnerable to rising gasoline prices....
To Republicans, I think that qualifies as an economic boom.