Here is a sign of how shaky the economy is becoming: Wal-Mart says its shoppers are redeeming their holiday gift cards for basic items -- pasta sauce, diapers, laundry detergent -- rather than iPods and DVDs.
Merchants had hoped that shoppers with gift cards would provide a lift after a slack holiday season, partly because they tend to spend more than the value of the card. But that did not seem to happen last month, and retailers are feeling the pain.
The Morning Email helps you start your workday with everything you need to know: breaking news, entertainment and a dash of fun. Learn more