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Shoppers walk past an H&M location, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, in New York. This holiday season is shaping up to be the weakest since the country was in the middle of a deep recession in 2008. That not only shows that stores misread Americans' willingness to spend during this period of economic uncertainty. It also could indicate that the days of throngs of shoppers spending thousands of dollars willy nilly on holiday gifts may be long gone.

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Shoppers disappoint retailers this holiday season

U.S. holiday sales so far this year have been the weakest since 2008, when the nation was in a deep recession. That puts pressure on stores that now hope for a post-Christmas burst of spending.

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