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Holiday Shopping Starts Sweet
LANSING — After everyone has given thanks and the turkey has been gobbled up, it’s time to hit the malls.
And this season retailers are actually looking forward to it.
With the unofficial start to the shopping season on Friday, Michigan retailers are facing it with rising optimism and momentum from recent months of improved sales.
Retailers enter the four-week period after posting some of the best numbers in more than a year and with a forecast for a 5 percent increase in holiday sales over last year, according to the Michigan Retail Index, a joint project of the Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) and Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
The industry’s overall sales performance climbed for the third month in a row in October. Forty-one percent of retailers increased sales over the same month a year ago, while 40 percent saw declines and 19 percent reported no change.
The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 53.7, up from 53.1 in September and the third month out of the past four in which the Index stood above 50. That hasn’t happened since the summer of 2000.
Sixty-four percent of retailers project increased year-to-year sales for November to January, while 17 percent see declines and 19 percent predict flat sales. The results create a seasonally adjusted outlook index of 74.8, up from 74.3 in September and the best since April 2002.
“The holiday season is starting with consumers in a stronger buying mood than last year,” said Larry Meyer, MRA chairman and CEO. “Sales have been improving since summer, and early reports for November are that shoppers are already getting a good jump on the holidays. Retailers are ready for a solid season.”