LCSN: Las Cruces area businesses hope holiday shoppers will open their wallets

October 26, 2009. Retrieved online October 26, 2009 from Brook Stockberger, Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — Halloween still looms and most folks probably have not even given thought to their Thanksgiving menu just yet, but that does not mean the Christmas season is a distant mirage.

In fact, Las Cruces area stores report that holiday shopping has already started and they hope the cash registers will ring with more frequency than last year, although that remains to be seen.

ShopperTrak, a retail research firm, predicted last week that total holiday sales will rise 1.6 percent compared with a year ago. Last year, holiday sales fell 5.9 percent while foot traffic dropped 15.4 percent, according to ShopperTrak estimates. The research firm tracks customer traffic at more than 45,000 stores.

The National Retail Federation, though, predicts a 1 percent decline in total sales to $437.6 billion for November and December combined.

“The consumer is just tired (of all the bad news),” Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak, told The Associated Press.

Louise Burchell, who, along with her daughter Kelli, owns The Emerald Isle Boutique clothing store at 1750 Calle De Mercado, agrees with Martin.

“I think that people have been cautious and will continue to be cautious, but people are also a little tired of holding back,” Burchell said. “I really think they may not spend with wild abandon; I think they will want to buy some new things to add to their wardrobe to make them feel better, and they will still get Christmas gifts for around the tree.”

…James Peach, who teaches economics and international business at New Mexico State University, said some stores might keep less merchandise on hand this year to cut overhead expenses, which means they are probably not expecting any sort of record sales.

“Depending on what they anticipate, they’ll adjust their inventory levels,” Peach said. “So even if there is some big surge in demand, if they don’t have it, they can’t sell it.”
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