Christmas Sales Looking Only Somewhat Jolly

Retailers should expect a decent but not great holiday this year, according to leading analysts who cite a shaky economy and cautious consumer mood. Even so, most predict that Christmas sales will be up—if less so than last year.The International Council of Shopping Centers was first out of the gate with its forecast, estimating sales will rise 3.5 percent this holiday season. ICSC chief economist Michael Niemira tells JCK that, despite all the mixed news about the economy, shoppers haven’t shut their wallets.“We see lots of worry and concern, but when you look at the actual spending trends, the picture looks relatively good,” he says. “The holiday season should be a continuation of this pattern. Short of some kind of major ­confidence collapse, more so than we have already seen, we don’t see any change in the relatively good patterns.”Niemira notes that in many sectors, i

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