Tidings of Profit and Joy

Browsing the aisles of a Broadway store in Los Angeles last week, Donna Darr glowed with confidence. Like the cheery crowds around her, Darr was in the mood to buy. Said she: "Things are better this year. I have more money, and I'm going all out."

That Christmas spirit of spending was in the air as shoppers embarked on a robust post-Thanksgiving Day parade into stores. No longer held back by recession worries, consumers were buying presents that ranged from stocking stuffers to such big-ticket items as television sets and refrigerators. This season's merry merchants...

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