No. 7: Consumer spending

Newly frugal consumers stayed away from stores in droves in the early part of 2009, sinking a number of venerable retailers, including Circuit City, which shuttered its 567 stores after filing for bankruptcy in January. Consumer spending, which accounts for roughly 70 percent of U.S. economic activity, increased modestly during the year, as a modicum of optimism crept into shoppers' collective unconscious. From a historic low of 25.3 in February, the consumer confidence index reached a tepid 52.9 in December, enough to fuel a healthier holiday shopping season. Shoppers take a break from shopping at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center in Denver. (Matthew Staver/Bloomberg)
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