Christmas sales are important to the overall economy and for many individual businesses. After all, sales at this time of year can mean the difference between profits and losses. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden provides a Christmas sales forecast.
“Christmas sales will nearly always have a mixed bag of factors in the economy working at the same time — some in this case will help sales. So, more likely, will hurt Christmas sales.
“Now on the help side, we have seen job growth over the last year, both nationally and here in North Carolina. Personal finances of households are better. The housing market is healing. Housing values are going up. That’s helping to reduce dramatically foreclosures. We’ve had a bullish, very much rising stock market that’s putting a lot of cash in the people ‘s pockets. And gas prices are much lower.
“On the other hand, we do have some factors that would hurt Christmas sales. We still have a lot of uncertainty in the job market. Clearly, we have unemployment that’s much too high. We have had household income growth, but that’s also been very weak. And then we still have a lot of concern over political disagreements.
“Taking all of these factors together, the consensus among economists seems to be that we’re going to have an increase in Christmas sales over last year, perhaps by around 5 percent. That would be a healthy gain. It certainly would not, however, be a record gain.”