An Iowa State University economist says the economy may have rebounded. I-S-U retail economist Ken Stone says we may be in a “mild recovery” but don’t yet know it because of the lag in reporting of economic data that involves collecting all the data from states. Stone says it takes awhile to collect employment and sales figures and get it analyzed and they’re usually two to three months behind. Stone says the 2002 Christmas shopping season should be a trifle better than last. Stone says retail sales last month were about two percent higher than in October of last year.Stone says if things continue in the same direction, he predicts holiday sales will be between two and four percent higher than last year. Stone makes that prediction because he believes consumers have more liquidity than is commonly believed.Stone says with historically-low interest rates, many people have refinanced their home mortgages or gotten a second mortgage, which means they have more to spend. Stone says November and December sales may determine the future of one K-Mart, of the nation’s biggest retailers. Stone says holiday sales will determine whether K-Mart emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. And Stone says smaller retailers who’ve been competing against the “big box” stores like Wal-Mart may be in a make or break situation, too.
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