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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Is it that time of year already? That’s what a lot of us say when we see holiday decorations in October. Christmas may have come early for many retailers. Their sales figures were better than expected last month, but Nancy Marshall Genzer says most stores aren’t expecting the holiday shopping season to break any records.
NANCY MARSHALL GENZER: Sales at stores open at least a year were up nearly four percent last month, but will shoppers stay inspired through the holidays?
Retail strategist Wendy Liebmann says it depends on fuel costs.
WENDY LIEBMANN:“If we keep seeing this roller coaster ride of gas prices it will make people increasingly nervous.”
Another factor: mortgage payments. People with adjustable rate mortgages aren’t on a roller coaster, they’re taking a ride, straight up according to retail analyst Howard Davidowitz.
HOWARD DAVIDOWITZ:“If you’ve got a $300,000 house, your payment can go up by $700 – $800 a month. Suddenly, the consumer has no where to go, except in the tank.”
But other analysts say those higher mortgage payments won’t hit until after the holidays so we’ll have time to open our presents, before heading into the tank.
In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.
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