The shoppers are back. The shoppers are back.

OK, but what about profits?

The Crowds Returned, Retail Profits Didn't.

“It’s a good start to the holiday shopping season,” Macy’s Inc. Chief Executive Jeff Gennette said in an interview Friday. “It started early online and when the stores opened yesterday evening, we saw strong traffic and people are buying.”

But despite the crowded malls and shopping carts loaded with everything from Christmas pajamas to Samsung televisions, retail profits aren’t keeping pace with the sales gains. Chains from Macy’s to Walmart Inc. are struggling with rising costs as more shopping shifts online.

“We are in a decade of profitless sales,” said Paul Lejuez, a Citi retail analyst. “Even though sales are better, a lot of the structural issues that have weighed on the industry haven’t gone away.”

The crowds may have returned on Black Friday, but check out the rest of the year.

Monthly Retail Foot Traffic

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Note the scale. Those are negative numbers, just less negative than a year ago.

Sears Last Black Friday

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