Retailers scramble to boost holiday shopping excitement as experts predict weak shopping season

Consumers concerned about another recession

INDIANAPOLIS - The country's largest retailer Wal-Mart has unveiled its Black Friday deals that begin Thanksgiving Day.

Some local experts say the early timing is an attempt to counter predictions of a weak shopping season.

Dr. Rachel Smith, an associate professor of finance at University of Indianapolis, said she expects to see a small 4.1 percent increase in holiday sales this year from last, which is more sluggish than retailers might want.

"Retailers are going to be doing a lot more cost cutting," Smith said. "I think it's continued concern about the future of the economy. We have a lot of uncertainty still that's out there."

Other local experts agree.

Shoppers are generally concerned this season with thoughts of another recession, possible tax increases and national worries about the country running off a looming fiscal cliff.

"That spells a fairly weak holiday season relative to what it should be if we were in an environment of growing incomes," said Ball State University economist Michael Hicks.

One hope for retailers could be this year's extended holiday shopping season.

Black Friday comes early on Nov. 23, and the good sales could continue through much of the holiday shopping season.

"They are going to try to spread it out more, rather than just making it one central time," Smith said.
Local experts also expect to see an effort among retailers to match in-store deals with those offered online.

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