Back to the stores: Fiscal cliff is on the mind of some shoppers

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 26 2012 5:56 p.m. MST

Until recently, European transplant Sven Haynes had been unemployed, so money was “tight” this holiday season. But despite those financial hardships, he is not too worried about the nation’s economic future since relocating to Utah.

“I believe in sharing the wealth in society,” he said. “I don’t mind being taxed. I’m fine with it.”

Haynes’ girlfriend Lara LaPearl, expressed sentiments similar to those shared by James.

“I have faith that they are going to come to a conclusion,” said LaPearl. “They know that they have to, so I feel pretty good about it.”

That optimism wasn't shared by all would-be shoppers during the past two months:

“The 2012 holiday shopping season experienced only marginal growth when compared to the 2011 season,” said Michael McNamara of Global Solutions Leader, MasterCard SpendingPulse. “The Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and North Central regions of the country all lagged the national average growth, while the Southern and Western regions of the country experienced more positive holiday shopping seasons.”

The report noted that the season had a distinctly different pattern to prior holiday shopping seasons with a difficult start coinciding with Hurricane Sandy. Then, the first two weeks of November were negative as the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions experienced substantial declines in holiday related categories.

“While in most years, there is a similar soft patch in the first half of December, this year’s “soft patch” was weaker than usual,” McNamara said. “Outside of Hurricane Sandy’s impact zone, the holiday season was definitely positive and more in line with expectations. But given that the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions account for about 24 percent of total U.S. retail, if those regions go negative, they definitely have an impact on the overall numbers.”

E-mail: jlee@desnews.com

Twitter: JasenLee1

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