Retail expert sees Merry Christmas sales

Nov. 17, 2004 at 6:28 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., Nov. 17 (UPI) -- A Purdue University retail expert says store and Internet retailers can look forward to a busy holiday season with a 4 percent to 7 percent sales increase.

The only Grinch seen by Richard Feinberg, a professor of consumer sciences and retailing, is an unexpected jolt in the world economy. The holiday season is critical to many U.S. retailers because that's when they make up to 40 percent of annual sales and 75 percent of their profits.

"We're predicting a 4 percent to 7 percent increase in sales over last year," Feinberg said. "A decade ago we considered double-digit increases normal, but now, because of the increase in channels -- the Internet and TV sales -- anything more than 5 percent is considered quite healthy."

Purdue's Retail Institute forecasts a 6 percent jump in Internet sales, which account for $12 billion to $13 billion of the $220 billion in annual holiday sales.

Feinberg says only a catastrophic event can undermine economic confidence of consumers this season.

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