Coast Merchants Upbeat About Holiday Spending

If coast retailers are nervous about this year's holiday shopping season, they're not showing it.

Store managers we talked with are definitely upbeat about Christmas spending, even though some national analysts are predicting a slower fourth quarter because of the sluggish economy.

Mike Statham is upbeat about the fourth quarter prospects. The manager of JC Penney in Edgewater Mall expects strong year end sales.

"We feel like it's going to be a strong holiday. The last two weeks have really made, we've made a tremendous recovery here in the retail business here in town. We really have," he said.

That recent surge in business is one reason Statham is so confident about the upcoming holiday season. He's also convinced the coast economy will help make this a Merry Christmas for retailers.

"Look at our unemployment rates here on the coast for the last eight to nine years. I think you'll find that it's unbelievably low. If you want a job in this area, you can find one. And that makes for a great economy and makes for a great holiday season."

Katherine Moore is equally upbeat. Like many retailers, her store experienced a drop in sales after the September 11th attacks. But business is already bouncing back.

"We're anticipating a good holiday season. With people traveling less, we expect that they're going to be spending their money in the community more. American people are out now. They're getting on with their lives. And they're starting to spend now."

The manager of "Music 4 Less" in the Prime Outlets center is also expecting the usual volume of customers in the next three months. Business dropped off slightly after September 11th. However, Sherron South remains upbeat.

"We're very optimistic about the sales going into this fourth quarter and the holiday season though. We're seeing more and more. As things are getting a little more back to normal, sales are increasing. More people are coming out and starting to spend some money again."

That spending has merchants expecting happy holidays.