Hopes weren't that high for holiday shopping numbers this year, but the numbers that are coming in are even worse than originally planned.

FOX News Radio's Bill Vitka reports:

Expanded hours, deep discounts and online deals: None of them drummed up the kind of business retailers hoped for in the Santa season.  The early data is pointing to the slowest growth in spending in four years.

For the eight weeks through Christmas Eve, retail sales rising just 0.7% from the year before, according to MasterCard Spending Pulse, where they say it's "a lost season."  Much of it is fallout from Hurricane Sandy, but even online shopping - which has been the jewel of retail - slumped to little more than 8%, a drop from the double-digit growth of the past few years.

Bill Vitka, FOX News Radio.

Those holiday sales numbers could get even more when some of those items end up back on shelves over the coming days.

FOX News Radio's Hank Weinbloom reports:

One estimate is that 10-15% of Christmas gifts get returned or exchanged.  Those returns taking a big chunk out of the bottom line of retailers.  Today is also one of the busiest days of the year for stores when it comes to redeeming holiday gift cards.

With all those folks in the stores bringing back stuff they don't want, retailers hope they'll exchange for more expensive items, or maybe take advantage of after-Christmas sales.

Hank Weinbloom, FOX News Radio.

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