It’s the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally considered the busiest shopping day of the year, though many Iowa merchants started pushing holiday items a month ago. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says in a word, he expects the season to be “okay” — not spectacular and not abysmal. Goss predicts growth of about three-percent when compared to last year.Goss says some of the many factors that will hinder growth include high gasoline prices, fears of high heating bills for the winter ahead and the fact many Iowans gave generously to various charities to help the victims of Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and Rita to recover. Goss says there’s another element that will hurt holiday sales. Interest rates are up about three-percent from 18 months ago, giving many of us less money to spend as more is going toward credit cards, home equity lines and other short-term interest accounts. Goss says some Iowa businesses will go 11 months of the year without seeing any significant monthly profits, banking on the final push during December and the crush of holiday shoppers. Some merchants will see 25-percent of their profits earned during the holiday buying season, which many have bumped up to starting the day after Halloween, not the day after Thanksgiving. On the broader scale, the National Retail Federation is raising its growth forecast for the holiday season to six percent, up from its five-percent forecast announced back in September when concerns over Hurricane Katrina dominated the news.
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