NEW YORK — After December’s dogfight, retailers may finally get a break. Industry analysts and consultants predict that when it’s all said and done, stores will report a decent Christmas, and are in for increases in the first half of 2003.

Following two mediocre holiday seasons in a row, "This holiday season, consumers are reaching into their pockets and discovering they have more money to spend. As the shopping season continues, there’s no reason to think this will stop," Carl Steidtmann, chief economist at Deloitte Research, said in a report last week.

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