With November’s arrival, Iowa retailers are looking ahead to the holiday shopping season. Predictions from Midwestern financial analysts range from wildly optimistic to downright pessimistic. Economist Roger Riefler says his research leads him to think the season will -not- be stellar for retailers as consumers may hoard their cash. Riefler says when you talk about predictions of 70-percent increases in natural gas prices, people “pull in their horns…and hunker down.” He says many people he’s talking to are looking to the upcoming shopping season with dread, though he admits it’s something of a challenge to predict exactly what’s ahead.He says if consumers turn pessimistic, it’s not good in the short run and it could carry over into the new year. Since most of us spent several weeks paying more than three-dollars a gallon of gasoline, we sent our spare dollars to help hurricane victims and now many Iowans are worried about how they’ll have to scrimp to pay the heating bill this winter. Riefler says the big start of the holiday shopping season will come in just a few weeks. He says the day after Thanksgiving is often a “strong indicator” of the shopping season ahead but he says most economists are good at looking back as opposed to forward. He says the negative things he’s hearing about the economy may be leaning a bit toward unfounded as he says things aren’t as bad as they may seem.
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