Overall, The National Retail Federation expects retail sales to be up 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion during the last two months of the year. That’s higher than last year’s 3.5 percent growth, but below the 6 percent pace seen before the recession.
Retailers say economic worries continue to weigh on shoppers heading into the holiday shopping season.
“We continue to see anxiety regarding the economy and the ability to stay within household budgets, particularly among lower and middle-income consumers,” said Kathee Tesija, executive vice president of merchandising for Target, which trimmed its annual profit outlook on Thursday.
In particular, some Americans still are getting used to smaller paychecks because of a 2 percentage point increase in the Social Security payroll tax that started on Jan. 1. That means that take-home pay for a household earning $50,000 a year has been cut by $1,000. That was a concern Wal-Mart noted on Nov. 14 when it lowered its annual profit guidelines for the second time in three months.
“It’s going to be as competitive of a market as we’ve ever seen,” said Charles Holley, Wal-Mart’s chief financial officer, adding that among the issues that the discounter faces are “the economic conditions that the customer is under.”
Stores also say customers don’t want to spend because they’re uncertain about their health care costs next year due to the U.S. health care overhaul.
Additionally, stagnant wages aren’t keeping up with daily living costs. Not to mention, some people are still out of work.
Here are some of the Thanksgiving holiday specials at local and area stores and their holiday operating hours. For all the specials, please see the circulars in Thursday’s paper:
• Bealls — Open Thanksgiving Day 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday. Reopen 6 a.m. Friday to 1 p.m. Android 4.2 Jelly Bean OS Tablet for $49.99 (Thursday only while supplies last). Chance for the first 50 customers Thursday to win a $100 gift card. Each of the first 50 wins at least a $10 gift card. A $10 discount of all fragrance sprays.