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Holiday sales slump after big weekend

Shoppers walked past holiday decorations at Downtown Crossing in Boston Thursday.

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Shoppers walked past holiday decorations at Downtown Crossing in Boston Thursday.

NEW YORK — If shoppers don’t show up in stores soon, more ‘‘70 percent off’’ signs will.

After a promising start to the holiday shopping season over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, sales have slowed, an analysis of data done for the Associated Press by sales tracker ShopperTrak shows. Worries about weak US job growth and other concerns are probably to blame for Americans spending less.

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That puts pressure on J.C. Penney, Macy’s, and other stores, which had been offering fewer discounts this season than they did last year, to step up promotions to lure shoppers like Ron Antonette from Long Beach, Calif.

Antonette so far has spent about half of what he planned to spend during this holiday season on gifts such as Legos, a Wii U game console, and Apple’s iPad Mini tablet computer for his two young children. Antonette stopped shopping after spending $1,000 over fears that Congress and the White House won’t reach a budget deal by January. A stalemate would trigger tax increases and spending cuts.

‘‘I basically stopped moving forward in buying,’’ said Antonette, 44, who runs a small public relations business and worries that he might not be able to take mortgage deductions on his house next year.

Holiday sales are up 2.2 percent to $659 billion from Nov. 1 through last Saturday, according ShopperTrak, a Chicago-based firm that tracks spending at 40,000 stores across the country. That is slightly below the 2.7 percent increase over the Thanksgiving weekend when shoppers spent $22 billion. The modest increase means sales for the rest of the season will be crucial for stores, which make as much as 40 percent of their annual revenue in November and December.

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