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Projected holiday sales expected to surpass 2009

BRIAN DUGGAN
bduggan@nevadaappeal.com
Brian Duggan/Nevada Appeal
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Now that the gifts are unwrapped, many local retailers say they are expecting to report better holiday shopping trends this year compared to 2009.

Or at least that’s the hope.

The National Retail Federation revised its projections for the 2010 holiday shopping season earlier this month, raising its forecast from a 2.3 percent increase over 2009 to 3.3 percent. The more optimistic report is a result of positive economic indicators such as the stock market, recent income growth and savings built up over the recession.

National retail sales in November, for example, grew 0.8 percent, seasonally adjusted, over October and 6.8 percent compared to 2009.

“Consumers have not been suffering from a lack of spending power, they’ve just been missing the confidence to use it,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “With noticeable improvement in key economic indicators combined with great deals on merchandise, consumers have certainly shown they shouldn’t be counted out this holiday season.”

The question, though, is how will that play out in this region given the economic stresses affecting many Nevadans this holiday season.

Bryan Wachter, the director of government relations for the Retail Association of Nevada, said he hopes Nevada mirrors the national trend.

“But it’s probably unrealistic to expect Nevada to meet (the revised forecast),” Wachter said. “We’re optimistic that we’ll hit 2.3 percent now, which is something we weren’t optimistic about before.”

He adds, “It will probably be the best Christmas we’ve had in three years, which is definitely cause for celebration.”

Sue Jones, co-owner of the Purple Avocado in Carson City, said she’s expecting improvement once the sales are tallied for the month.

“I don’t yet know for sure, I’m thinking we’ll be better than 2009,” Jones said. “It’s still kind of hard to tell because we even get great after-Christmas sales.”

Bill Schipper, the store manager of Carson City’s JC Penney, said he could not comment on store sales and how they compare to 2009, but did add: “I’m happy.”

The season wasn’t so merry for John Antonsen, through, the owner of Glass Creek Studio at the Carson Mall, which sells hand-made glass decorations and jewelry. He said business is down by about 50 percent compared to 2009.

“It is definitely slower,” he said. “2009 was my second best year, believe it or not.”

And given reductions in the state government and the construction industry, he adds, “It may have been a recession last year, but I feel like it’s been more like a depression this year.”

Next door, Suzanne Anderson, owner of One of a Kind Stuff in the Carson Mall, said sales are also off by about 50 percent this year.

“People are being very conservative,” Anderson said. “It’s like they’re holding on to their money and taking time to make their decisions. We’re still doing OK, but we still have day jobs so that helps.”

Some customers making some last minute Christmas shopping at the Topsy Lane shopping center said they had mixed feelings about the strength of the economy this holiday season.

Debroah Budd, 58, Carson City, said 2010 has meant fewer gifts as a result of tighter budgets. But she’s hopeful.

“The job is still there, but I see things lifting up in town,” Budd said. “There are some businesses coming in, but I’d like to see a lot more. Hopefully they’ll keep coming.”

Joni Forcier, 52, and her husband Troy said they usually buy each other gifts and give their grandchildren money (it ensures everyone gets what they want).

“We’re done, we’re not rich,” Troy Forcier said as he help a couple of bags from Best Buy.