As we look ahead to the main holiday season, what has been a dysfunctional time in the Capitol has forecasters ready to place contingencies on retail sales growth prospects.The government shutdown, battles over budget, and jitters created by the possibility (albeit unlikely) of a U.S. default on debt, have had a cascading effect on interest rates, investor skittishness and many aspects of business. So, as we look ahead to the main holiday season, what has been a dysfunctional time in the Capitol has forecasters ready to place contingencies on retail sales growth prospects. The yearly Back-to-School shopping period was weak this year, and has likely alerted retailers that they are going to need more than just 'business as usual' to earn trips and customer-spending in the latter half of 2013. At The Lempert Report, we feel the sooner stores demonstrate they’re on shoppers’ side in uncertain times, the more they’ll earn trips and trust. While retailers vie for greater share of the holiday dinners and entertainment sales, that’s just one piece of the pie. Yes, stores will benefit from highlighting holiday events, but let’s not forget that most food and beverage needs are the quick, convenient, everyday kind. At this time of year, with school and work demands and the financial stresses that come with the holidays, people want less pressure, more expediency, combined with quality and value. They also want empathy from stores that understand their economic and emotional plight. Stores that message and deliver on these themes have a better chance to win the season, because they’ll ring true with shoppers during the rest of this calendar year.