WMU News

Outlook for retailers is rosey this year

Dec. 17, 2003

KALAMAZOO--After three years of flat or modest growth, retailers are expecting a substantial boost in holiday sales this year.

In particular, super stores and discount outlets are expected to see the biggest increases, says Dr. Barbara Frazier, a Western Michigan University assistant professor of family and consumer sciences who specializes in retail entrepreneurship and the economic impact of retail businesses.

"Retailers are very optimistic this year," Frazier says. "For instance, the National Retail Federation estimate is for an increase of between 5 and 6 percent. Some other analysts are a little less optimistic, but considering that last year wasn't that great, there's less of a base to build on. So retailers are pretty optimistic."

Frazier says retailers have had the opportunity to fine tune operations during the recent economic downturn and now have a chance to turn things around. Shoppers can expect to find bargains, Frazier adds, but she warns bargain hunters not to wait too long before buying, thinking that prices will drop further.

"Retailers are saying don't wait too long to buy something, because they're going to keep their inventories very lean," Frazier says, "and if you look at something, it may not be there a day or two later when you go back for it."

Media contact: Gail Towns, 269 387-8400, gail.towns@wmich.edu

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