Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahomans Have 2 Good Reasons to Buy Now, Say Merchants

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahomans Have 2 Good Reasons to Buy Now, Say Merchants

Article excerpt

Low interest rates coupled with the competitive climate in the retail market, forcing merchants to chop prices to keep an edge, are two good reasons consumers should be buying now, according to Steven Beffort, president of the Oklahoma Retail Merchants Association.

"With the economy very tough and competition severe, it makes a buyer's market," Beffort said.

Though the declining oil prices severely damage the economy, gasoline prices in Oklahoma are some of the lowest in the country and well below the national average. The money consumers are saving atthe pumps will most likely be spent somewhere else.

Because of the increase in sales tax collected from restaurants in Oklahoma City, showing more people are dining out, Beffort speculated that could be an area to absorb the extra savings.

Low interest rates should prompt consumers to make larger purchases now, Beffort said.

"Auto sales have been strong," he said. "Home sales, except in Oklahoma City, have been fairly good statewide."

But increased buying in major areas, such as homes, automobiles and appliance, takes income out of the market for general merchandise sales.

The Oklahoma City retail climate drones on at a slightly depressed pace, even if it can not be seen at first glance.

"Sales tax collections are up about 3.3 percent, but the increase was 8.3 percent. We see a real situation in which sales generation is not there," Beffort said.

"If sales were equal, we would have an 8.3 percent increase in tax collection.

"More and more people are dividing up a smaller pie, which means it's an extremely competitive retail environment.

"It's good for the consumer," he noted. "Because of the competitive environment, retailers are having more sales and selling merchandise at reduced prices. …

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