Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Retail Sales on Track for 5-7% Hike

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Retail Sales on Track for 5-7% Hike

Article excerpt

HOUSTON _ Retail sales gains for the holiday season should reach analysts' expectations of a 5-7 percent increase from last year, according to an economist with TeleCheck Services Inc.

"Same-store check sales are increasing at a very moderate pace, which may be due in part to the unusually heavy use of credit cards this shopping season," said Dr. William Ford, TeleCheck's senior economic adviser. "With one more Christmas shopping day this year compared to last year, and with Christmas Eve falling on a Saturday, we expect to see a surge in sales through the rest of this week."

"As a result, total retail sales gains should reach analysts' expectations of 5-7 percent over last year. Looking into the new year, consumers will be facing heavier credit card and mortgage payments as a result of recent sharp increases in interest rates," Ford said.

Same-store retail check sales showed disappointing gains of only 1.6 percent nationally for the 24-day period between Nov. 25 and Dec. 18.

Retail sales in Oklahoma were up 4.3 percent for the 24-day period.

Ford holds the Weatherford Chair of Finance at Middle Tennessee State University. Earlier in his career, he was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and served on former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker's Federal Open Market Committee. The data, collected by TeleCheck Services, a Houston-based check-acceptance company, were based on a year-over-year, same-store comparison of the dollar volume of authorized checks written by consumers at more than 18,000 of TeleCheck's 115,000 subscribing locations. In 1993, TeleCheck processed $24 billion in check authorizations.

The Mid-Atlantic region led with a 5.2 percent increase. Sales rose 5.5 percent in Virginia and 3.1 percent in Pennsylvania, but fell 1.2 percent in New Jersey.

Sales were up 6 percent in Baltimore, 2.7 percent in Philadelphia and 2 percent in Pittsburgh, but dropped 0.9 percent in the District of Columbia.

Both the Southeast and West had increases of 2. …

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