[San Francisco, December 21. Image via AP.]

In this Dec. 21, 2009 photo, Women carry shopping bags as they walk past a French Connection UK store in San Francisco, Monday, Dec. 21, 2009. Sales this time of year are vital to retailers, of course. But they're not nearly enough to drive the economy. Even if holiday sales exceed expectations, the broader recovery is expected to remain weak _ for the rest of the year and beyond.(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)