Stores adjust to slow sales predictions

Oct. 14, 2008 at 11:21 AM
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NEW YORK, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Predictions of a slow U.S. holiday shopping season are causing some stores to change their holiday sales strategies, industry observers said.

In September, the National Retail Federation said holiday sales -- defined as November and December shopping -- would increase 2.2 percent this year, the lowest growth rate since 2002, USA Today reported Tuesday.

Some stores, such as discount retailer Wal-Mart are attempting to adjust to the wary mindset of consumers by starting holiday sales early, the newspaper said.

Stores are cutting back on their spending but hoping consumers don't notice less inventory or fewer sales staff, the report said. Other say they will offer cheaper items this year as consumers indicate they plan to spend less or buy gifts for fewer people.

Wal-Mart said a recent survey of 1,000 consumers indicated 39 percent will start their holiday shopping early. An identical number said they planned buy cheaper items this year. Thirty-five percent said they had reduced the number of people on their holiday shopping lists.

"Shopping is more and more an act of love. You may not be buying all you bought last year," Jim Taylor, vice chairman of Harrison Group, a marketing consulting company told the newspaper.

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