Retailers Expect Lumps of Coal (And other Yuletide business section headline clichés)

scrooge mcduckThe National Retail Federation committed to some numbers today (Oct. 6) with the release of its holiday sales forecast. Ylan Mui, as usual, has the smooth breakdown. Basically, the best case scenario for Christmas shopping is a 1 percent decline in 2009 from 2008 — which is good news only because 2008 showed a 3.4 percent decline. What interests me most are statements like these from NRF spokesdude:

The retail federation’s forecast “is a good number in that it shows stabilizing in sales,” NRF spokesman Scott Krugman said. “However, it also acknowledges that the recovery is not going to be consumer-led.”

If the recovery is not going to be consumer-led, then what is it going to be? Our economy hinges on shopping — like, 70 percent of our economy, which relies on those ordinary Saturdays in which Americans drive around, fill up with gas, go get this at Bed Bath & Beyond, decide to swing by Staples for some other miscellaneous need, and wind up in Pier 1 buying candles and napkins, and then have lunch at Chili’s, and then kill time in Border’s waiting for a call to go meet the rest of the family over at the mall, etc., etc.

Well? Luckily, retailers have decided to have an old-fashioned holiday. It’s way back to basics, as this fascinating (to me) story from AP’s Anne d’Innocenzio gets at. Forget the feathers and themes in trees, forget the “uspide-down” tree themes, the goofy stuff. Forget blue, lavender, snowflakey themes. Christmas is straight and narrow this year, by God: Red, green, gold, plaid. The end. It’s a hard-candy Christmas, folks. Just like Meemaw had in the Depression. You’ll get an orange in your stocking and be glad for it, etc., etc.

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