PRICES RISE SLIGHTLY: Consumer prices rose 0.1 percent in November, due to small increases in food and energy costs. In the past year, prices are up only 1.1 percent.

LITTLE SIGN OF INFLATION: Outside of the volatile food and energy categories, core consumer prices rose 0.1 percent, the first increase in four months. Core prices are up only 0.8 percent in the past year, just below October's record-low annual increase of 0.6 percent.

NO PRICING POWER: With unemployment high and the economy still sluggish, retailers have little ability to raise prices for fear of chasing away consumers.