Holiday Spending Disappoints Amid Cliff Worries

Holiday Spending Disappoints Amid Cliff Worries

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It was not the most wonderful time of the year for retailers. With the threat of the fiscal cliff looming, shoppers spent cautiously this holiday season, disappointing retailers with the weakest year-over-year sales performance since the Great Recession in 2008. Sales went up by just 0.7 percent in the two months before Christmas, compared to last year’s 4 to 5 percent increase in sales over November and December, traditionally the retail industry’s busiest time of year. -  Read more at The Washington Post

OBAMA CUTS HAWAII VACATION SHORT The President will return to Washington today, cutting short his Christmas holiday in Hawaii as he and lawmakers resume their stalled negotiations to prevent the economy from crashing over the fiscal cliff.

Members of Congress, however, don't seem to be in a big rush to get back to Washington, even if they only have four days left to come together with a compromise. The Senate returns Thursday and the House has not yet announced when it will reconvene.  -  Read more at the Associated Press

STARBUCKS TO THE RESCUE?   If there's one thing that can bring lawmakers from both sides of the aisle together, it very well could be a cup of coffee. That's why Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is pushing for a fiscal cliff compromise through every cup of Starbucks coffee sold inside the Beltway.

From Wednesday through Friday, Starbucks employees in the Washington, D.C. area are instructed to write “Come Together” on every cup of coffee they sell.

“Rather than be bystanders, we have an opportunity — and I believe a responsibility — to use our company’s scale for good by sending a respectful and optimistic message to our elected officials to come together and reach common ground on this important issue,” Schultz wrote in a company blog. “It’s a small gesture, but the power of small gestures is what Starbucks is about!”   -  Read more at Politico

OPTIMISM FADES AS CLIFF CLOSES IN   A new Gallup poll released today shows the public is (unsurprisingly)  losing faith in Washington's ability to save the country from falling over the fiscal cliff.
Fifty percent of respondents believe President Obama and lawmakers will reach an agreement before the end of the year, down from 57 percent from the last poll on Dec 16. Meanwhile, 48 percent are doubtful a deal will be reached in time, up from 40 percent.

The poll also shows increasing confidence in Democrats' handling of fiscal negotiations. Fifty-four percent approve of the president's effort in talks, up from 48 percent. While confidence in Republicans fell from 29 percent to 26 percent, after House Speaker Boehner's Plan B fell apart last week.  -  See the poll here

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Brianna Ehley is the former Washington Correspondent for The Fiscal Times. She is currently a reporter on Politico's health care team in Washington, D.C.