Archive

ShareThis Page
Holiday spending could rise slightly | TribLIVE.com
News

Holiday spending could rise slightly

Consumer holiday-spending surveys suggest that retail sales should look much like last year’s ho-hum performance, but any surprise is likely to be on the upside, with Americans perhaps opening their wallets a bit more than expected.

“It definitely looks like consumers are no more pessimistic than they were last year, which I think is pretty good news, because we could err on the more positive side,” said Lynn Franco, the director of the consumer research center for The Conference Board, a private business-research center. “We should be able to at least match last year’s sales.”

The Conference Board released its annual survey of Christmas gift spending. It said that U.S. households are expected to spend an average of $384 on gifts this holiday season. That’s $6 less than last year’s estimate of $390, not exactly robust.

“The economy has improved, but it’s still operating below par. We haven’t really seen a significant dent in unemployment rates, even though we’ve been adding jobs,” Franco said. “It’s kind of where we were last year. I guess that’s kind of better than where we were two years ago.”

Franco’s survey found that 1 in 4 U.S. households will spend more than $500 on gifts this year, 39 percent expect to spend somewhere between $200 and $500 and 37 percent will spend less than $200.

Those estimates are in line with the National Retail Federation, which represents national chain stores. It expects total holiday sales in the neighborhood of $447 billion, an increase of 2.3 percent over last year.

That would be slightly off the 10-year average annual increase of 2.5 percent, but better than last year’s increase of 0.4 percent — and much better than the 3.9 percent sales decline during the 2008 holidays.

“There’s a little more buzz about Black Friday again,” said Ted Hurlbut, a consultant to major retailers.

Back-to-school and Halloween sales were better than expected for retailers this year, he said, and while monthly statistics continue to bounce around, the trend is definitely one of modest improvement.

“I don’t think anybody thinks we’re talking about something like pent-up demand, but it just means that people are willing to spend a little more freely this year,” Hurlbut said. “I think that goes to a sense that the employment picture has stabilized, that people that have jobs are starting to feel comfortable that they’re not going to lose their jobs and that’s really the starting point for a change in mood. If you are one of the 90 percent that’s working, and you have greater confidence that you’re not going to lose your job, you are going to be a little more willing to spend.”


TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.