Make us your home page

Frugal forecast for holiday gift spending and retail hiring

Backed by forecasts of a lean holiday gift-buying season, the nation's retailers plan to hire about the same number of seasonal workers as last year.

The National Retail Federation today is expected to forecast a modest 2.8 percent increase in general merchandise sales from Thanksgiving to Dec. 31 and said seasonal hiring will be close to last year's 495,000 jobs, short of the 600,000 in pre-recession years.

Hiring intentions vary widely. Macy's, Kohl's and JCPenney each plan to hire at least 5,000 more seasonal workers this year. But Best Buy and Toys "R" Us plan 20,000 fewer jobs, combined.

The 2.8 percent sales gain, which envisions $466 billion in spending, follows an unexpectedly strong 5.2 percent gain to $453 billion in 2010.

Experts pin the frugal mood on nagging unemployment, stock market gyrations, a lack of income growth and higher food and gas prices than a year ago.

"The good news for retailers is that shoppers have not thrown in the towel," said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for the trade group.

Meanwhile, holiday gift budgets of affluent shoppers — households living on $125,000 to $250,000 a year — dropped 17 percent from 2010, according to American Express. That could become a big deal, because that group is the bulwark of the top 10 percent of wage-earning families responsible for almost a quarter of holiday spending.

Their mood is not rooted in financial fears. Rather, they think they "have enough stuff" after reordering their priorities during a three-year economic downturn.

"Expressions of happiness are being increasingly decoupled from the desire to acquire more and more things," said Jim Taylor, vice president of the Harrison Group, a market research firm hired by American Express. "The search for the holiday spirit resides in family and simplicity."

Frugal forecast for holiday gift spending and retail hiring 10/06/11 [Last modified: Thursday, October 6, 2011 12:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay small businesses give Tampa B+ for regulatory climate


    In a recent survey about small business sentiments toward state and local government policies that affect them, Tampa Bay ranked at No. 25 out of 80 — a B+ overall.

    Tampa Bay ranked No. 25 out of 80 in a recent survey about how small business owners feel about state and local government policies that affect them. | [Times file photo]
  2. Seminole Heights restaurants face struggles amid killings, post-Irma

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA — The neighborhood's hip circle of popular, well-regarded restaurants is feeling the squeeze in the wake of a recent killing spree. And the timing is rough.

    Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe has been taking precautions in light of the Seminole Heights killings: keeping the lights on all night and having employees walk to their cars in groups.
  3. St. Pete-Clearwater holding food, supply drive for hurricane refugees


    CLEARWATER — St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are holding a food and supply drive for the Hispanic Outreach Center in Pinellas County. The event, which will benefit refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria, will be held Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the airport at 14700 Terminal Blvd.

    St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are hosting a food and supplies drive Tuesday for refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria. | [Times file photo]
  4. Tallest building in Pinellas County in search of a new name

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — The name "Priatek" is gone from Pinellas County's tallest building, perhaps to be replaced by that of a much better-known company new to the Tampa Bay area.

    The Priatek name is off of downtown St. Petersburg's tallest building.
 [LARA CERRI  |   Times.  2015]
  5. Estuary wins pier design contest for the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway extension

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — And the winner is… Estuary.

    Voters overwhelmingly supported a pier design called Estuary for the $200-million extension of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in Tampa.
[Courtesy of AECOM]