Many Iowa retailers will rely on the final six weeks of 2008 to turn their profit for the year, but one economist predicts the holiday shopping season ahead will be dismal — at best. Ernie Goss, a Creighton University economics professor, says some Iowa merchants will soon start to hire on their holiday helpers, but not too many of them.
Goss says, "We’re going to see an upturn in hiring, however, once you seasonally adjust those numbers, they will be quite negative, or at least we’ll see rising unemployment rates, seasonally adjusted. The Christmas buying season for this part of the country is not going to be good. For the nation, it’s going to be even less good."
Goss compiles a monthly survey of business leaders and supply managers in Iowa and eight other Midwestern states. He says all signs are pointing to a December that’s less "ho-ho-ho" and more "no-no-no." Goss says, "I’m expecting probably one of the worst Christmas buying seasons that we’ve recorded since we began the survey in 1994, so, all in all, it’s just not looking good."
Goss says the national economic downturn is pulling the state’s economy down and financial ills continue piling on in industries including housing, banking and transportation. As the cold of winter approaches, he says it’ll only get more expensive to live in Iowa as we have to fire up the furnaces.
Goss says, "Consumers have had to dip into their checking accounts, their savings accounts, to support purchases of energy and of course, now with energy prices coming down, that’s good, but unfortunately, the pig was already in the python."
On the plus side, Goss says the downturn is only temporary, though it may be nine months before we’re back on solid ground. He disagrees with others who predict we’re heading for another depression as Goss says that’s just not in the numbers he’s seeing.