The holiday season forecast looks good for Iowa retailers. Jim Henter, president of the Iowa Retail Federation, says it’s been a “pretty good year” for business so far. Even with some ups and downs in the economy, he sees some pluses and some people spending money so he has hopes the next 30 days will be good for merchants. Henter confirms that in Iowa as welsewhere, many merchants make a big fraction of their whole year’s sales in the few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. For a lot of retailers, this is kind of the “live and die” season, and for sellers of things like apparel who are geared to the holidays it’s an important part of the year. With 22 shopping days till Christmas, Henter says merchants have to worry about getting merchandise in time and bringing in enough shoppers with enough money to spend. The weekend after Thanksgiving was a preview for many of how the year-end sales will go. Henter says it was a mixed bag, as he hears from a lot of retailers that it was fantastic, others say they were disappointed in the traffic, but he hopes to see the predicted 4 to 5-percent increase over last year. There may be no marketing monster like Windows 95 or Tickle-Me-Elmo, but Henter says some items look a lot like winners this season. Some hot items are electronics — video games and the units used to play them, CDs and DVDs, toys and apparel. Overall Henter thinks it’s going to be a good year. Weather’s a big factor, he says — the first cold blast and snowfall really helps get people in the mood to go out and get shopping.