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Holiday retail projections optimistic - economists

November 13, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Economists say retail sales are up nearly 4 percent this year. Although consumers are still in a cautious mood, they're also optimistic and willing to spend more on themselves and others.

It may seem early to "deck the halls," but experts say it's all part of a retail strategy.

"We all kind of laugh when we see the Christmas decorations start showing up in September, but for those of us who want to stretch our budgets out over a longer period of time and make it a little bit easier, that's a good way to take advantage and do your shopping," said economist Kimberly Ritter-Martinez from L.A. County Economic Development Corporation.

Many big-box stores are even changing the Black Friday tradition, opening on Thanksgiving. Shoshana Puccia of the Glendale Galleria says they don't officially open until 5 a.m., but many of their retailers are choosing to open at midnight. Target is opening at 9 p.m. Thursday.

Ritter-Martinez says despite factors like slow income growth and unemployment, consumer confidence is up, so people will be whipping out the plastic and paying those credit cards off.

Shoppers have mixed views on the economy, retailers say they're seeing an uptick in sales, and projections are good.

The Glendale Galleria expects to hire an additional 3,500 seasonal employees.

"We are cautiously optimistic," Puccia said. "I do believe we'll continue to see an upward tick in electronics and toys."

According to the L.A. County Economic Development Corporation, more than half of shoppers will be spending their money online this season.


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