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Juli Niemann: It should be a decent Christmas spending season

Shoppers carry shopping bags.

Steve Chiotakis: Consumer spending is one
of the biggest drivers of the nation's economy -- especially this time of year.

And in about an hour, we'll get the latest reading on how consumers are feeling these days -- from the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters. Economists will be watching if continued uncertainty over the European debt crisis and other things here at home are weighing on many minds.

Jill Schlesinger from CBS/MoneyWatch is usually with us on Friday. But today we have Juli Niemann, who's an analyst with Smith, Moore and Company. Juli's with us live from St.Louis. Hey Juli.

Juli Niemann: Morning, Steve.

Chiotakis: So I want to start with Europe because a lot's going on there and there's been obviously this constant drumbeat of bad news. But it seems so far away. Does that have any sway as to what American consumers are thinking?

Niemann: Well, consumers really don't care about Europe. The average American doesn't get why the markets are hyperventilating over the daily drama that's going on in Europe. What they're really concerned with are jobs, housing prices, their 401Ks.

hey're all recovering, but income is not and they really don't see meaningful recovery at this point, it's very, very small. Ninety percent of all consumers think we're still in a recession, so that sentiment hasn't changed at all.

Chiotakis: What about retailers, are they prepared -- you know, here we are with the shopping season coming up -- are they prepared for another year of lackluster sales?

Niemann: Well, the good news is that retailers are looking at consumers scowling but they're scouring the store for really good deals, and they're spending their savings. It's not going to last for long, but it will help until Christmas. Retailers are looking at a very decent season here.

They started with the holiday season; they're very promotional, inventory's in line. But it won't take very much for them in the way of bad news to make the consumers run for the exits again. Right now, they're looking for deals, they are spending, and it looks like just because of the product line-up, you're going to see a decent season this year for Christmas.

Chiotakis: Juli Neimann, from Smith, Moore and Company, Juli, thanks.

Niemann: You bet.

About the author

Juli Niemann is executive vice-president for research and portfolio management with Smith, Moore and Company.

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