Holiday shoppers were out in force hoping to get last minute bargains for Christmas but early indications suggest they didn't spend as much as in previous years.  Despite a slew of deep discounts - some retailers say 2012 has not been a great year.  Around the world, shoppers appeared subdued - not sure about what their economies might bring them in the New Year.

At U.S. shopping centers, parking lots were full - as thousands of last minute shoppers descended into crowded malls.

But the big crowds mask larger concerns. Consumer confidence has fallen to a 6-month low, and retailers say shoppers don't seem to be spending as much.

Dana Mattioli covers retail trends at the Wall Street Journal. "All the retailers are in panic mode.  It hasn't been a great holiday season," she said.

But if flagging consumer confidence worries retailers, shoppers say they have other things on their minds.

In Greece, despite the festive decorations - the issue is not confidence but economic reality. After six years of recession, Greeks expect even tougher austerity measures in the New Year.  So while shoppers in Athens look at the brightly decorated shop windows, few carry shopping bags.

One Greek pensioner says, after rent and food, there's just no money left. "Nothing, the economic hardships are so great that we cannot afford to buy anything," said George Manikas.

In Spain, where unemployment is 26 percent, shop owners are dropping food prices to tempt consumers.  But Emilio Perez, a butcher, says customers have less money to spend.

"We are selling between 20 percent and 30 percent less than last year.  The purchasing power people had has been taken away from them, and we can all feel that very clearly," he said.
他说,消费者可消费的钱更少了。他说:“与去年相比, 我们的销售要少了20%到30%。消费者的购买力被夺去了,我们能很清楚地感受到的。”

But in Ghana, where money is tight and inflation is 9.3 percent, some shoppers were more philosophical. "There is no money in the system as per se, yes but we wouldn't think too much about that, money or no money. Since we have life, we have to do something for our children and loved ones," said shopper Vida Afforo.
在加纳,老百姓手头比较紧,通货膨胀率高达9.3%,尽管如此,一些人却很达观。加纳妇女维达.阿福诺说:“是没有什么钱了, 但是,我们不会想得太多, 有钱没钱,日子还是要过, 我们总得为孩子们和我们所爱的人做点什么。”

But American retailers who enjoyed a brisk start to the holiday shopping season last month - are not ready to give up.

Retail analyst Bill Martin says there's still one week of holiday shopping before the year ends. "Retailers are hoping that the consumers will come back and deliver those same strong results during this last weekend of the year," he said.

Worldwide, the bigger concern is whether American lawmakers are willing to drive the U.S. economy back into a recession. Despite the threat of economic shock from higher taxes and automatic spending cuts, neither political party appears willing to bend on a year end deadline for a budget deal.
从世界范围来说, 大家更为关注的是美国的国会议员们是否会让美国陷入新的衰退。尽管由于增加税收和削减支出可能会带来经济震荡,两党议员似乎都不太愿意在年底就预算协议达成协议