Confidence down for holiday shopping

A customer shops at an H&M clothing store in San Francisco, Calif.


Steve Chiotakis: It seems few people are buying much of anything these days. American retail chains report their October sales this morning, and the month is shaping up to be one of the worst on record. Could that mean the upcoming holiday shopping season's toast? Here's Marketplace's Sam Eaton reports.

Sam Eaton: It's no surprise that Americans are spending less these days. Unemployment is surging and consumer confidence for October plunged to its lowest level ever. That has some predicting the worst holiday shopping season in more than two decades.

Paul Nolte is a retail analyst with Hinsdale Associates. He says some retailers will be hurt more than others.

Paul Nolte: I think the opportunities lie with the much stronger financial retail companies as well as those that are going to serve the more general public as you were, not as upscale.

Think Wal-Mart and its "low, low prices." And as shoppers look for deals, online retailers with low overhead may fare better than their brick and mortar competitors.

Luxury retailers like Saks and Nordstrom's may be the hardest hit. Forecasters are predicting as much as a 3 percent drop in sales as America's wealthiest consumers go bargain hunting instead.

I'm Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

About the author

Sam Eaton is an independent radio and television journalist. His reporting on complex environmental issues from climate change to population growth has taken him all over the United States and the world.


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