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Back to School
Back to school, the extended version

Nearly a month after students started stuffing their lockers again, many retail analysts are calling this year's back-to-school shopping season underwhelming. Britt Beemer, founder of America's Research Group in South Carolina, went so far as to call it a "retail disaster." How bad was it? Spending was actually up more than 3 percent through early September, according to Connecticut research firm Customer Growth Partners. Some analysts were hoping that broader macroeconomic gains, such as in employment and asset prices, signaled that shopping would return to the glory days of spending growth in the 5 to 7 percent range. But that may be unrealistic in today's more...