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Report: Consumers to Have Lean Shopping Lists

22 Sep, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey

Consulting firm Deloitte is forecasting that holiday sales from November to January will be flat this year compared to 2008, with consumers still feeling the pinch from the recession.

Deloitte expects sales to reach $810 billion, which is still an improvement over the previous year’s drop of 2.4%, which the company says was the first year-over-year drop since 1967.

“Although there are signs that suggest the economy is nearing the end of its darkest days, many consumers remain burdened by restricted credit availability, high unemployment and foreclosures,” said Carl Steidtmann, chief economist with Deloitte Research. “Americans continue to save at historically high rates while also paying down debt, and these factors combined suggest another chilly holiday season for retailers.”

He added that if gas and home prices stabilize, consumers may be more apt to spend at retail.

“While the level of economic uncertainty may be lower than a year ago, consumers will likely proceed cautiously into the holiday season,” said Stacy Janiak, vice chairman and U.S. retail leader for Deloitte. “Retailers appear to have prepared themselves for a challenging season by adjusting inventory and closely managing their expenses

“A growing opportunity for retailers is the surge in consumers who are embracing the digital age. Retailers that can harness the power of technology likely have a better chance of engaging those consumers who are willing to spend.”

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