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Retail sales during last year's holiday season were up by 2.9 percent over the previous year, below a projected increase of 4.3 to 4.8 percent, according to new statistics released by the National Retail Federation. Total holiday retail spending (which excludes purchases at automobile dealers, gas stations and restaurants) added up to $707.5 billion last year, less than the $717.5 billion to $720.9 billion the Federation had expected.

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