October 23, 2014

Creighton survey still not positive about Christmas season

A survey predicts the holiday shopping season may not give Iowa merchants — or the state’s tax coffers — much of a bump during the final two months of the year. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says his latest survey of business leaders and supply managers in Iowa and eight other Midwestern states suggests holiday shoppers could be in a bah-humbug mood.

“On average, the expectation is down by one-point-six percent,” Goss says. “Now, we’d like to see about six-percent growth so this is not good news in terms of holiday buying.” Goss says the results of the Creighton survey during October are in line with other economists’ predictions of a lackluster holiday shopping season during a sluggish economic recovery. He says consumers in Iowa and elsewhere are being bombarded with conflicting messages about the economy, in addition to worries about their jobs and the potential for a costly winter heating season ahead.

“What we’re seeing here is just a whole lot of uncertainty,” Goss says. “There’s uncertainty about Cap and Trade bills going through Congress, there’s uncertainty about the health care reform bill going through Congress and finally, you’ve got tax increases on the horizon.”

Since the national recession began almost two years ago, Goss says Iowa has lost three-percent of its jobs, most of them just in the past year. Even though Iowa’s unemployment rate has stabilized, Goss says he expects the state’s jobless rate to climb again before year’s end.