Early moods signal soft start to holiday shopping season
Nov 19, 2012 (St. Joseph News-Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Holiday spending may be experiencing an initial letdown, based on a check of shoppers' pulses Sunday afternoon at St. Joseph stores.
A rough survey of consumers browsing East Hills Shopping Center shows that money is apparently tighter in some households heading into Christmas. That sort of appraisal could result in a retraction of gift buying over the next five weeks.
Lack of money was cited by Joyce Crossland of Atchison, Kan., as a factor dampening the enthusiasm.
"We'll be shopping, but not that much," Ms. Crossland said.
Other shoppers said they wanted to get a jump on their Christmas shopping, even if it meant starting before the traditional Black Friday launch later this week. Erica Schmitz of Horton, Kan., said she was excited to begin the search for gifts and holiday decorations.
Her father, Elmer Schmitz, said he remains hopeful for a good shopping season.
"We kind of wanted to go today, so it wouldn't be busy," he said. "I'm not crazy about the rush."
Diane Bowen of St. Joseph said she intends to cut spending but still push forward with shopping plans.
It's not doing that well," Ms. Bowen said of her personal economy right now. "It just snuck up on me," she added, referring to the season.
Ann Lovett of Maryville is going to shop smart and be on the lookout for bargains due to the lackluster economy. She is optimistic after perusing ads and e-mail offers from merchants.
"There's a lot of sales out there," she said.
Jean Reinert also is hopeful and agreed that finishing off shopping early is the best strategy to pursue.
"However, you know, we're being pretty thrifty this year," she said.
RetailMeNot.com, the largest online coupon site in the nation, said its survey of Black Friday shopping trends shows fewer consumers plan to scale back their budgets compared to those questioned last year. This year, 71 percent of holiday shoppers will spend about the same or more than last year. Last year's survey said 63 percent would spend the same or more.
But weak October retail sales reported by the federal government raised concerns that this holiday shopping season may be lukewarm. Online and catalog purchases fell 1.8 percent for the month, the most in a year, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.
The National Retail Federation forecasts holiday sales will rise 4.1 percent this year, a larger-than-usual increase over the past decade.
The Associated Press contributed information to this story.
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