Bleaker outlooks at retailers like Wal-Mart and Macy's are raising doubts among economists that consumers will spend enough in coming months to lift the still-subpar U.S. economy.
Though the economy is growing steadily, Americans are being hampered by weak pay, higher taxes and tepid hiring. Sluggish overseas economies are also slowing sales for U.S. retailers. It's a picture the Federal Reserve will weigh in deciding whether to scale back its bond purchases as soon as next month.
Some economists say job and wage growth need to strengthen before consumers start spending more freely.
Average weekly paychecks have grown just 1.3 percent since the recession ended more than four years ago. Over the past 12 months, pay has trailed even low inflation.
Americans increased their spending at an annual rate of just 1.8 percent in the April-June quarter - down from a 2.3 percent rate in the January-March period.
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