DENNIS SEID: It’s time once again to open our wallets – maybe

Got your Santa list ready?
Walk into some stores today, and you’ll notice Christmas decorations are already in place. There we go again, overlooking those two holidays between now and then.
That would be Halloween and Thanksgiving, if you’ve forgotten.
But through the end of the year, retailers are hoping we’re willing to spend a little more, even if we’re not so sure.
You’ve seen the reports. All the uncertainty about the economy, taxes, health care, jobs, etc., still worries U.S. consumers.
However, we might just be willing to open our wallets and purses a little more.
First, there’s Halloween, a week from today.
The usually chipper National Retail Federation says spending for the spooky holiday should bounce back nicely from last year’s big drop.
It says the average consumer plans to spend $66.28 on costumes, candy, decorations and greeting cards this year, compared to $56.31 last year. This year’s spending, if it holds true, would be an 18 percent increase over last year and would be on par with the $66.54 average spent two years ago.
You may recall a story earlier this month in the Daily Journal that suggested consumers, at least around here,are indeed spending more.
NRF said about 40 percent of the people who participated in its survey planned to wear a costume.
Another 11.5 percent in the survey said they plan to dress up their pets.
Some retail experts say Halloween helps kick off the holiday selling season. Maybe they’re right.
Back to the NRF, which said last week that consumers also plan to spend a little more for Christmas this year.
Last year, the average consumer spent $681.83. This year, NRF predicts that number to rise slightly to $688.87.
Any increase is good, but the figure is nowhere near the $755.13 spent on average three years ago.
What do consumers plan to spend for Thanksgiving? The NRF doesn’t break out what we’re going to spend on turkey, dressing, green bean casseroles or pumpkin pie, it seems.
A Wall Street Journal story painted a gloomier picture for holiday sales, however. According to the WSJ:
• A new survey by Texasbased First Command Financial Services shows 71 percent of middle-class families (defined as those with incomes of $50,000 or more) plan to give less this year, with 38 percent planning to spend less than $500 total on gifts. That’s up from 18 percent who said so last year.
• More than half say they’ll reduce overall spending on gifts by about $300 and about 40 percent plan to cut back by more than $400.
First Command did survey households about Thankgiving, and one in eight families is spending less on food this year.
So, one group says consumers will be spending more, another group says we won’t.
Retailers, obviously, hope for the former.
Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@djournal.com.

DENNIS SEID / NEMS Daily Journal