Two Americas Get Ready for Christmas

Dec 17, 2004

By George Anderson

This year’s holiday sales season is a study in contrasts. By all accounts, retailers selling luxury goods to their upscale customer base are doing extremely well. Those stores that rely on getting middle and lower-income consumers to part with their dollars are having a tougher go of it.

Michael Niemira, chief economist at the International Council of Shopping Centers, told the Associated Press that this year is turning out be “a real struggle for a broad range of retailers, other than the high end, and that struggle has a lot to do with the economy.”

Specifically, say Mr. Niemira and others, the high price of fuel and concerns about job security and future prospects are causing consumers to keep a tighter grip on the purse strings this holiday season.

Eileen Brosko, a 70-year-old retiree is among those watching her dollars this year. “At my age, I am not doing too much buying. I don’t feel secure,” she said.

At the other end of the economic spectrum, conspicuous consumption is back in vogue.

Gerald Celente, director of Trends Research Institute said, “There is this quest of who is going to have the shiniest, boldest and brightest status symbols.”

Moderator’s Comment: What are your observations on how this year’s holiday shopping season is shaping up? What will it mean for retailers going into

George Anderson – Moderator

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