Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Economists See Bright Christmas for Retailers

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Economists See Bright Christmas for Retailers

Article excerpt

Local economists report that taxable sales for the first nine months in Oklahoma presage a "fairly strong" Christmas season, despite indications that nationwide purchases will be flat this year.

The fact that statewide totals have not varied substantially from the metro area achievements indicates that the Christmas season should be strong in general, said Robert C. Dauffenbach, director of the Center for Economic and Management Research at the University of Oklahoma.

But the big picture is bleak, according to America's Research Group, Inc. While many economists have forecasted sales increases at the national level of about 5 percent for this year's holiday season, ARG says the increase will be a meager 1.5 percent, the worst sales in two decades. ARG has correctly predicted the sales numbers for the last three years. Many retailers, said ARG chairman Britt Beemer, will see no sales growth or declines of as much as 1 percent. But for Oklahoma, numbers thus far indicate the outlook is positive, says Dauffenbach. The state overall experienced strong gains in taxable sales through the first nine months of the year, but particularly in Oklahoma's metropolitan areas. The statewide gain in September was 4.5 percent compared to a year ago, with Oklahoma City and Tulsa accounting for 93 percent of the total statewide gain. The trend in taxable sales has been consistently strong this year, especially in Oklahoma's two major metropolitan areas, said Dauffenbach. In the figures compiled thus far this year, OKC and Tulsa combined to account for $12.2 billion of the $18.3 billion in state-wide taxable sales, about two-thirds of the statewide total. OKC and Tulsa represent about 70 percent of gains in taxable sales for the first nine months of the year. Oklahoma City showed a gain of 5.7 percent for September as compared to a year ago, while the Tulsa metro area enjoyed a rally, up 4.8 percent, despite surprisingly weak values recorded in August. …

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