The retail industry's leading trade group [the National Retail Federation] announced yesterday that it expects holiday sales growth to be better than it had predicted, thanks to falling gas prices and strong sales during September and October.Ohio leads the nation in layoffs - or did until GM announced they'd be giving the boot to 30,000 people just days before Thanksgiving. Here in Rochester, NY, Kodak changes the number and schedule of its layoffs more often than most people change their socks. And while gasoline prices are down, they are still higher than this time last year. Home heating costs are going to be significantly higher this winter than last and there's a general sense of unease in everyone I speak to. This unease is at least in part fueled by the prospect of Republican cuts to programs that help the poor and lower middle class as well as continued increases in the cost of health care and the higher costs of just about everything in the grocery store.
As I've blogged about during the last two holiday seasons, there is one group that seem to have no worries about holiday spending:
Though the group said it expects nearly all retail categories to show strong gains this holiday season, luxury stores are on track to do particularly well, Davis said. High-income consumers are less likely to be affected by fluctuations in gas prices, and those with moderate incomes seem to be saving up for more expensive items.Of course that's not surprising given that BushCo. is pushing hard for more tax cuts aimed squarely at those in the top brackets and extending those already in place. Some people are going to have a great holiday season this year. For the rest of us - that 90% of Americans to whom Santa will not be bringing a tax break - things are looking a little bit bleaker.