Spending: Holiday shoppers have brought retailers a mildly positive season. Spending through Dec. 19 is tracking a little below the 1.6 percent growth forecast by ShopperTrak, a research firm that monitors sales and traffic at more than 50,000 outlets. Discounts: Retailers offered lots of aggressive promotions heading into the season. However, they didn't order nearly as much merchandise as last year, so they didn't have to cut prices drastically beyond what they had planned. Retailer profits: Those low inventories should protect retailers' bottom lines, a big turnaround from last year's bleak holidays that led prominent sellers such as Circuit City Stores Inc. into bankruptcy.

Spending: Holiday shoppers have brought retailers a mildly positive season. Spending through Dec. 19 is tracking a little below the 1.6 percent growth forecast by ShopperTrak, a research firm that monitors sales and traffic at more than 50,000 outlets. Discounts: Retailers offered lots of aggressive promotions heading into the season. However, they didn't order nearly as much merchandise as last year, so they didn't have to cut prices drastically beyond what they had planned. Retailer profits: Those low inventories should protect retailers' bottom lines, a big turnaround from last year's bleak holidays that led prominent sellers such as Circuit City Stores Inc. into bankruptcy.