The year-end holidays can make or break some retail businesses which count on a disproportionate share of their annual sales in the few weeks leading up to Christmas.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss does a monthly survey of purchasing managers in the region and he predicts the 2006 holiday shopping season will be “pretty good but not great” for retailers. Goss doesn’t survey retailers, but does talk with the companies that supply the retail sector, and that data tells him holiday sales will be up only a slim margin more than the rate of inflation.
Energy prices took a dip this fall after record highs during mid-summer, but Goss says energy prices are prompting consumers to be a bit more cautious. While it’s good news to find energy prices lower than their all-time peak, Goss says they’re still high enough to cut into the money consumers have to spend on other things.
Goss says the major factor limiting the economy right now is the inflation-dampening effect of the many federal-reserve interest-rate hikes in recent years, though he says strong commodity prices this fall helped a lot in farm states.