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Gephardt: New Economic Report Gives Retailers Hope For Holiday Spending

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Since the pandemic hit back in March, 2020’s economic news has usually been doom and gloom –especially early on when quarantines, furloughs, layoffs and business closures sent the country’s retail economy into a tailspin.

But a recent report shows there is some good economic news to report, even as COVID-19 numbers continue to spike.

A new report from Coresight Research found this past September not only saw a big gain in retail sales compared to the summer, but it also outpaced sales in September 2019 by 12% — well before the pandemic struck.

“A breath of fresh air, great numbers that we’re seeing,” said Alex Fitzgerald, a principal in consumer practice with retail consulting firm Kearney.

Fitzgerald said the numbers indicate this holiday season will not be the disaster many are fearing.

“Retailers are looking at this data and saying, ‘OK, this is encouraging. Maybe our holidays will be better than some of the downside scenarios that we’ve been planning for,’” she said.

A new report from Coresight Research found this past September saw a big gain in retail sales compared to the summer. (KSL-TV)

The same report showed clothing, department stores and restaurants are beginning to bounce back — though still far below levels before the pandemic. And it’s not that people are refusing to spend money — they are. It’s that more moolah is going to home improvement and building materials instead, along with sporting goods and hobbies.

Yet, Fitzgerald warned darks clouds still hover over the economy. The resurgence of COVID-19 means smaller retailers who aren’t Amazon or Walmart will keep struggling to stay open.

“There’s still a lot of uncertainty heading into the remainder of the year and then into 2021 as well,” she said.

So, how do retailers do Black Friday in a pandemic? Instead of crowds busting down doors on Nov. 27, retail experts said this year, the shopping spree will stretch an entire month or more. In fact, Best Buy, Walmart and Target have already started dropping their Black Friday deals.

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