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Holiday Shopping Season - 11/24/14

Retailers are hoping for a banner holiday shopping season this year and they just might get it.  Retail recovery has been inconsistent in recent months due to a combination of factors, including weather, soft income growth, Ebola scares and other forces.  Monthly sales actually declined during September in the U.S. 

But while September was a sluggish month for sales, retailers across the U.S. collectively increased payrolls by more than 35,000 according to Moody’s Analytics, likely because they expect holiday sales to be brisk.  Indeed, there are a number of hopeful signs.  Consumer confidence has been rising, the quality of jobs being added to the economy has been improving, and low fuel prices are increasing discretionary spending power.  According to the most recent report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the pace of hiring has accelerated in a number of industries, with much of the acceleration concentrated in retail. 

The Challenger report monitors large retailers, nearly all of which intend to increase seasonal staffing from a year ago.  While many of these positions are temporary, their existence will help to lift U.S. economic growth during the final stages of 2014.

Anirban Basu, Chariman Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group (SPG), is one of the Mid-Atlantic region's leading economic consultants. Prior to founding SPG he was Chairman and CEO of Optimal Solutions Group, a company he co-founded and which continues to operate. Anirban has also served as Director of Applied Economics and Senior Economist for RESI, where he used his extensive knowledge of the Mid-Atlantic region to support numerous clients in their strategic decision-making processes. Clients have included the Maryland Department of Transportation, St. Paul Companies, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Players Committee and the Martin O'Malley mayoral campaign.