Retailers predict strong holiday season - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Retailers predict strong holiday season

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October 10, 2004

Albany -- The official start of the holiday shopping season is less than a month away and the National Retail Federation predicts holiday sales will grow 4.5% over last year.

But, retailers are wondering if the economic struggles, the war, destructive weather, and skyrocketing gas price will keep shoppers from spending big.

Early Christmas shoppers like Joe and Debbie Januszewski, from Colquitt, consider themselves lucky the recent destructive weather won't dampen their holiday shopping.

"All we lost with the tornados in our town was a bit of our roof and we lost our computer. Right down the street the guy we know lost his roof and part of his porch. He had no insurance. So we are blessed that we didn't get hit," says Debbie Janszewski.

Even with millions of dollars in storm damage in South Georgia, high gas prices, and lingering anxiety over the war, shoppers like the Januszewski's don't seem to be slowing down. Retailers believe this year's holiday shopping season will be a strong one.

"People are recovering from different things and they are feeling good about themselves and where they are so that helps. I think for the most part it's demand. If it's there and it's something they want, they're going to buy it," says Lorenzo Kenton of Target.

Some analysts believe that presidential politics could delay shoppers this holiday season from shopping early and cause retailers to slash prices even lower than normal.

Lowering prices is a strategy many stores say they are willing to use if they have to, but for now they'll use the subtle hints and sale prices they always used to get shoppers excited about holiday shopping. If all else fails they'll have to leave their fate in the hands of a much stronger power.

"No you can't disappoint the kids," says one shopper.

A constant retailers hope will add too what they predict will be a very profitable holiday season.

Sales are expected to reach 219 billion dollars this holiday season.

posted at 6:10PM by scott.hunter@walb.com