NEW YORK — Retailing during holiday 2002 was disappointing, not awful, and 2003 should be better, but still not great.

That’s the latest appraisal from economists and analysts, emerging from the National Retail Federation annual convention here Monday. During their presentations at the Jacob K. Javits Center, several cited lower mortgage rates, refinancings, gains in consumer income, potential Bush economic incentives and a turnaround in business investment in equipment and software, as reasons for relative optimism. Consumers might even be ready to replenish wardrobes, after holding back on apparel purchases for several seasons — provided retailers finally come up with some good-looking fashion.

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