Holiday shopping slightly up from 2008 statistics

By By , News Editor

By Michael McFall, News Editor

Although local analysts haven’t tallied all the numbers for Utah yet, national reports indicate that there has been and will be more money poured into a damaged economy through the upcoming holiday shopping season compared to last year.

ShopperTrak, a retail analytic firm, reported that consumer spending on Black Friday8212;the annual, honored and at times bloody kick-off of the holiday shopping season8212;is up about half a percent compared to last year. It’s a shred of good news for the economy, and U students helped8212;the western region of the United States led the increase in retail sales, according to the firm.

The National Retail Federation cites a www.shop.org survey, which says 13 percent more Americans than last year plan to purchase gifts on Cyber Monday, the online-shopping version of Black Friday. The amount of revenue from online retail is already up more than 10 percent since the weekend, according to the NRF.

But all this holiday cheer in the retail market isn’t the end of tough times. Students say they still feel the pressure of an economy in recession when they spend on friends and family this year. They face both a record-breaking tuition hike next year and the highest state unemployment rate in at least two decades.

Adam Durant, a freshman in computer science, said he’ll probably spend less on Christmas gifts this year than he did last year.

“I just got to college and (am) relying on my own money now,” Durant said. “Buying gifts draws from my account that I use for paying for school.”

Emily Wooldridge, a senior in business, also said she isn’t going to spend much money on gifts this year either.

“I don’t have the budget, first of all,” she said. “And it’s meaningless after a while if it’s done out of obligation. None of my friends or I need more junk.”

Their plight is reflected in the weekend reports. Consumers are spending less. Even though 23 million more people shopped both in-store and online since Black Friday, consumers spent $29 less on average than they did last year, according to the NRF.
Ali Marashi, a senior, said it was crazy at the Target and Fred Meyer stores where she went shopping while in Portland, Ore., for Thanksgiving Break. But she said she spent hundreds of dollars less this year than last.

“I have an internship, so it’s cutting my hours at work, so I’m not getting paid,” she said.
Together, the influx of shoppers and decrease in spending comes out to slight half a percent increase in overall revenue ShopperTrak reported.

The increase, though small, is an affirmation of the ShopperTrak analysts’ prediction the rest of the holiday season will ultimately be 1.6 percent higher than last year’s, one step in an upward trend, said firm co-founder Bill Martin in a statement.

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