Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Retailers, Experts Have Mixed Holiday Outlook

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Retailers, Experts Have Mixed Holiday Outlook

Article excerpt

It's Black Friday and a slumping economy could bring a dark Christmas for retailers.

Christmas sales are expected to be down about 2 percent this year, said Jim Russell, chairman of the undergraduate business department at Oral Roberts University.

Consumers have a pessimistic attitude about the economy, he said.

"We're going to see fewer shoppers on Black Friday," he said. "People are going to be a little more hesitant to reach into their wallets."

A preliminary survey by the National Retail Federation found consumers will still shop on Black Friday. It projected 128 million people will shop over the Black Friday weekend, down from 135 million people who said they would or may shop over Black Friday weekend last year.

The survey found 49 million people will definitely hit the stores, while 79 million are waiting to see weekend deals before making any decisions.

Economic conditions have forced many retailers to dramatically decrease prices, Russell said. Still, selling more items at a discounted price will not guarantee an increase in overall sales.

The Oklahoma economy hasn't taken a hit like other parts of the country. But Russell said many Oklahomans are still feeling the pinch.

"A lot of Oklahomans have heavy stock portfolios, heavy retirement accounts," he said. "It is justified to be a little more cautious this year."

When looking at the sales tax figures for Oklahoma, Robert Dauffenbach said the numbers are strong for the state. If the numbers hold up, he predicts steady retail sales for the holiday season.

There are several reasons why holiday sales could decrease, said Dauffenbach, associate dean for research and graduate programs at the University of Oklahoma's Price College of Business.

"It just depends on how depressed we are by what's going on around in other regions of the country," he said. "There is a big psychology factor."

Another concern is that Oklahoma retailers didn't stock up as much for the holiday season.

That could result in a demand but no supply, said Dauffenbach.

"If it ain't there you can't buy it," he said.

Mohammed Shaaf, professor of economics at the University of Central Oklahoma, said he has a grim outlook for the holiday season and for next year. …

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