Major retailers including Wal-Mart and Kohl's that cater to budget-conscious consumers, and mid-priced merchants including Macy's, say shoppers are spending less and purchasing only the essentials, as reflected in lower-than-expected quarterly sales. Upscale retailers including Bloomingdale's fared better as wealthy consumers continued to spend. "High-end luxury is doing a little better because of the wealth effect," NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said.

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