Steidtmann offers holiday cheer to needy retailers
Staff -- Home Textiles Today, 11/11/2002 12:00:00 AM
NEW YORK —
Only one of the panel members did not present a picture of retail gloom, as Carl Steidtmann, chief economist for Deloitte Research, offered quite the different point of view about the upcoming holiday season.
Based in New York, Steidtmann works with clients in assessing the impact of economic, demographic, political and technological changes on their business strategies.
Steidtmann said, "While the news may not necessarily be the best, it is certainly not the worst." In fact, he maintained that holiday sales would be relatively good and continue through 2003.
"I'm predicting and hoping for a fairly decent 5 percent to 6 percent sales growth," Steidtman said to the obvious approval of those retailers in the audience.
Steidtmann cited the overall drop in unemployment claims from 2001 to 2002, saying that claims were down 15 percent. He also said real wages were up by 1.5 percent from a year ago and the housing market had improved due to the high amount of mortgage refinancing. Finally, Steidtmann said the tax cut instituted by President Bush was the largest in 30 years and would further boost consumer spending.
"The consumer is in a position to spend," Steidtmann said.
However, he cautioned that there was some cause for concern, specifically the amount of deflation and the overabundance of retailers and apparel.
"Businesses must understand how to operate in a deflationary period," Steidtmann said, adding that a lack of understanding could ultimately lead to lower margins and possibly a closure of business.
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