Which is it? Both can't be true at the same time. Either sales are up or sales are down. Looking at the articles and all the associated articles, it appears that sales are up (20 percent or more) across the entire market. The negative numbers are specific sectors or sub-sections (enclosed malls). It appears that the negative articles are written that way to indicate that the market and economy are doing much worse than they really are. This isn't the first time.
There is a significant amount of "talking down" of the economy. You can see this in the housing bubble theories, companies not doing enough, and the dire predictions of a weak holiday season (since proven untrue).
Unemployment is at 5.0 percent, despite two hurricanes. This is roughly half the rate of unemployment throughout most of Europe. Current income is up, GDP is growing (3.8 percent), and the stock market is up. Despite this, pundits insist that doom and gloom is coming even though economic indicators will continue to show increases.
Let's be honest a moment, it isn't the Republicans campaigning on a bad economy, it's the Democrats. Liberals' campaigns say that the economy is in the tank and that everyone is suffering despite the complete lack of any evidence to support those claims. Income is up. Home ownership is up. Unemployment is down. Home values are up. Almost every traditional indicator shows that the economy is growing, yet the perception is fostered that we are heading toward a Great Depression.
This trend in reporting shows two things. Democrats are beyond using facts to scare voters about the economy. Instead of coming up with a platform to better America, they spend their time telling America how bad things are. Facts be damned. Second, it shows that the press, once again, is in the tank with the Democrats' agenda and is carrying the water for them. The story is a roaring economy, but they search and scour for some shred of evidence to talk it down. Objective reporting or campaigning? I think the answer is clear.