It's Your Money

Nov 14, 2010 7:47 PM by Matt Stafford

Merry shopping season ahead for local retailers

"Got to start early" explains Thea Etchells.

Your definition of early may be different than others when it comes to holiday shopping.

"I think everybody is starting to shop earlier," explains Thea, who's just finishing up a shopping trip to Best Buy with her dad, Dale.

The season may be coming quick for consumers, but most retailers have been planning for some time.

"It's a very important view into the future, this little peep hole that we're looking through called Christmas shopping season," explains Fred Crowley, a senior economist with the U.C.C.S. Forum.

Crowley says when you compare our position now with going into last year's shopping season, we're much better off. El Paso County has added 5,500 hundred workers. Also, thanks to the first-time homebuyer's tax credit that expired in June, Crowley say we're buying "big ticket" items to fill the homes that were purchased, and that helps. However, locally, few things drive the holiday shopping season like locally-stationed military, and that total is up.

"This is up 10,000 based troops just compared to a few years ago," Crowley says. "So we see strength continuing for the retail season at the end of the year."

But will that shopping be in the store, or from home? Likely both, but online sales continue to grow.

"Even in the worst of the recession it was still growing five to eight percent a year," Crowley explains. He says the internet keeps getting more important to retailers, so expect to see more stores focusing in on it. It's an area he says Colorado Springs businesses aren't focused on enough.

However Thea and Dale aren't hopping onboard with the online shopping. They're still coming to the store.

"I like to get the feel of what I'm going to be buying," Thea explains. "It's better to have it in your hands than to wait and just get it through the mail."

Regardless of how items are sold, economists will be more interested in how many are sold. Crowley says strong sales now will likely point to a strong 2011.



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