Retailers could face challenging holiday season - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Retailers could face challenging holiday season

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

October 13, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The economic crisis has many of us holding on to our money a little tighter these days. That's bad news for retailers as we head into the holiday season they depend so heavily on.

Many of them are trying to build consumer confidence now and they're hoping that confidence will lead consumers to spend more cash for Christmas.

If you walk into many stores these days, you don't have to readjust your eyes. It's true.  Christmas has already arrived.  The ornaments and decorations are already on display.

While many people are pinching pennies these day, Thea Moore isn't letting the economic Grinch prevent her from spending some green. "No," said Moore, "I'm just living day by day."

Her motivation for that living and spending is simple. "You have to make yourself happy everyday," said Moore.

Retailers hope to meet more shoppers like Moore over the next several weeks. So they're providing a visual incentive--Christmas in Fall. "And they're buying it," said Kirkland's Assistant Manager Iyegshea Byrd.

The snowmen are out along with Santa Claus at Kirkland's where managers say business is steady. "To get people kind of prepared for Christmas so the last minute shoppers they can get it early so we have it all," said Byrd.

But nationwide, there's growing fear in the Fall. The National Retail Federation forecasts a challenging holiday season with a rise in sales of only 2.2 percent, the slowest growth since 2002. The housing market, unemployment and a reduction in consumer confidence will cause stores to fight harder for business.

"I think we'll do pretty good. I'm very confident in us. We have a good team here at Kirkland's and I think we'll do pretty good," said Byrd.

"I give love throughout the year so one year isn't going to make or break me," said Moore. Despite the times, Moore plans to spend as she normally does for the holidays. And once again, she offers a motivational motto for spending money.

"Because tomorrow is not promised to us," said Moore.

Retailers hope tomorrow brings more customers with the same outlook and a holiday season better than projected.

The National Retail Federation doesn't expect to see a turnaround in the economy until the second half of next year.

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