Though the Consumer Confidence Index fell in October to a two-year low, falling gas prices and an unseasonably warm autumn have relieved consumersconcerns about soaring energy costs, giving them some unexpected wiggle room in their holiday budgets, according to University of Notre Dame economist Kasey Buckles.
Rising energy prices were largely responsible for the fall in consumer confidence, along with uncertainty about the future job market, but the outlook for the holiday season has improved in recent weeks,Buckles said.The effects of theGulfCoasthurricanes on the economy have been smaller than expected across the board, inflation and unemployment have not risen sharply, and the economy grew in the third quarter.In fact, the National Retail Federation just optimistically revised its projection for holiday sales growth from 5 percent to 6 percent.
Online retailers are expected to be the big winners again this year, Buckles explained, with Forrester Research predicting online sales to top $18 billion – up 25 percent over last year.
Stores online are wooing customers with expanded selections, detailed product information and offers of free shipping, which are even more appealing in a year when consumers are reluctant to fill up their tanks to hit the stores,Buckles said.
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