Holiday shopping forecast grim - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Holiday shopping forecast grim

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Halloween is still a few weeks away, but the holiday shopping season is already getting started. Wal-Mart and K-Mart are kicking off promotions to get shoppers out early. At the same time, retailers are bracing for what could be another tough year.

When it comes to holiday sales this year, it looks like retailers are in for a mixed bag. Depending on the analyst and survey, holiday shoppers are expected to spend one percent more, one percent less, or the same as last year. The estimates are far off the mark from the 10 year average of more than three percent growth.

"Practical is going to be the name of the game for most shoppers," Scott Krugman with the National Retail Federation said.

The National Retail Federation says the bah-humbug for consumers spending less this holiday - the nearly 10 percent national unemployment rate.

"Consumers, many of them, have the where-with-all to spend. They've been spending the past year and change saving and paying down debt, but they're concerned," Krugman said.

A cautious consumer retailers are expecting. Unlike last year, when businesses were left with too much inventory, stores are buying less merchandise this holiday.

Retailers from discount to luxury are rolling out promotions early. Wal-Mart kicked off its holiday pitch announcing 100 toys will be offered at $10 each. Looking to grab the attention of the estimated 40 percent of shoppers who start holiday buying before Halloween. For the other 60 percent who get started closer to Thanksgiving, the advice - don't wait too long.

"So, if you're that consumer playing that game of chicken with retailers this year, where you wait until the last minute to get the lowest price, this is a year where you lose that game of chicken," Krugman said.

A sobering bottom line for shoppers and retailers heading into the most wonderful and critical time of the year.

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