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GOVERNMENT, PRIVATE REPORTS PREDICT LESS SPENDING AHEAD.

NEW YORK-Despite the bounce in October same-store sales, retailers can look forward to a less-than-rosy holiday shopping season if recent government and private research reports are an indication. Taken together, the reports show rising unemployment, especially in the retail and wholesale sectors; a yearly drop in help-wanted ads; lower consumer confidence; and general consumer hesitancy when it comes to buying.

The U.S. Labor Department reported that while overall unemployment rose only slightly in October, joblessness in the retail and wholesale sectors grew noticeably, to 7.3 percent from 6.9 percent in September. A year ago, the sectors' combined unemployment rate was 6.1 percent. Retailers and wholesalers are operating with 342,000 fewer employees this year than last.

Also on the labor front, The Conference Board reported that its help-wanted index, a reflection of the health of the labor market, moved up two percentage points from August, but was still down 10 points from the previous year. The board earlier reported that consumer confidence in September was at its lowest level in nine years.

And an online poll conducted by Terra Lycos found that although an increasing number of consumers have begun to shop well before the traditional end-of-Thanksgiving period, at least half say "they will be spending less this year than last." And 60 percent said that for economic reasons, they will be spending "more conservatively" during the coming holiday season.
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Comment:GOVERNMENT, PRIVATE REPORTS PREDICT LESS SPENDING AHEAD.
Author:Weber, Nathan
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 11, 2002
Words:234
Previous Article:RETAILERS REVISE ESTIMATES AS COMPS RISE.
Next Article:ANALYST: WAREHOUSE CLUB GROWTH EXPECTED TO START SLOWING DOWN.
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