Some of the nation's leading economists look at women's shoe purchases as a leading economic indicator. When times are going to be harsh, why bother with the new kicks? But when women know they're going to be stepping out, to work, to socialize, to spend, etc., then lots of things go right. Well, that's the way economists are looking at holiday shopping, which managed to eclipse expectations and turn back the clock to pre-recessionary levels. Stay tuned for how well that holds up during the January white sales, and whether it filters into optimism on the bigger ticket items like cars and houses. The New York Times' Stephanie Clifford reports.

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