Notre Dame ReSource: Holiday spending, consumer confidence up slightly

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Though the numbers from two closely watched consumer surveys released in October were grim – indicating that consumer confidence was falling – some encouraging economic news since the release of those figures offers a rosier picture for the holiday spending season, according to a University of Notre Dame economist.

“U.S. job growth soared in October, surpassing even the most optimistic forecasts, reversing months of sluggish hiring that left consumers worried about the strength of the economy,” said James X. Sullivan, assistant professor of economics and a specialist in labor economics and public finance.

“Oil prices, while still high, are down from the peak in late October. Also, retail sales exceeded expectations by rising a modest two-tenths percent in October,” Sullivan said. “Together, this information suggests that consumers may have more to be confident about entering the holiday shopping season.”

Optimistic projections by the National Retail Federation indicate that the average U.S. consumer will spend about $700 this holiday season, reflecting an increase of about 4.5 percent over last year.

Online retailers have reason to be particularly optimistic, according to Sullivan. A recent Forrester Research Report projects that U.S. consumers will spend 20 percent more buying gifts online this holiday season than they did at the same time last year.

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_ * James X. Sullivan can be reached at 574-631-7587 or " "

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