NEW YORK — Appearances can be deceptive. The malls may be busy and Fifth Avenue is packed, but there’s just not enough post-Christmas shopping to improve the generally glum revenue outlook for the season overall.

It became even sadder Monday when Federated Department Stores Inc., operator of Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, among other chains, said comp-store sales for the November-December period would be down 4.5 percent, plus or minus a couple of tenths, lowering a previous projection by about 2 points.

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