The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

October 7, 2013

Holiday sales to rise, but shutdown curbs enthusiasm

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Retail sales may increase 3.9 percent during the holiday season, as political and economic uncertainties damp consumer confidence, the National Retail Federation said Thursday.

Sales may rise to $602.1 billion in November and December, Washington-based NRF said in a statement. The increase is slightly higher than last year’s 3.5 percent gain and the 10- year average of 3.3 percent, NRF said. Stores may hire 720,000 to 780,000 seasonal employees, compared with 720,500 last year, the group also said.

The first partial government shutdown in 17 years and the prospect of a lengthy budget fight could jeopardize the economic recovery and cool consumer sentiment, the auto market and sales of luxury goods. The economy has shown positive signs as unemployment dropped in August to its lowest level since December 2008, while sales of previously owned homes rose in August and housing prices gained 15 percent from a year earlier.

“We’re trying to balance looking at the whole year of relatively strong fundamentals underlying the economy against the uncertainty coming out of Washington and the significant unresolved issues that exist at a policy level,” NRF President Matthew Shay said in an interview. “We’re in for what could be a solid season, but we have to let the folks in Washington get out of their own way a little bit to let that happen.”

Online sales will rise as much as 15 percent to $82 billion in November and December, the NRF’s shop.org arm projected. That would compare with an increase of 15.5 percent in e-commerce sales in the fourth quarter of last year, the NRF said, citing Commerce Department data.

The Federal work stoppage may subtract as much as 1.4 percentage points from economic growth, depending on its length, according to Guy LeBas, chief fixed income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.

The partial shutdown entered its third day Thursday after a meeting between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders Wednesday failed to break the budget logjam that has led to the first shutdown since 1996.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • Poet takes his act to Las Vegas LAS VEGAS — The old poet is dressed in black, his platinum-blond hair rakishly moussed. He stands amid the hubbub, facing a stern test of his crafted words and carnival-barker delivery. The venue is a smoky lounge called Ichabod’s, east of the Strip.

    July 23, 2014

  • Minnesota race track to refund horse owners ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota race track manager says the track will refund horse owners after an audit found it shorted race purses by nearly $437,000 over four years. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (http://bit.ly/1p9mtEh ) the Running Aces

    July 23, 2014

  • Bodies of Malaysia jet victims leave Ukraine KHARKIV, Ukraine (AP) — Two military aircraft carrying the first bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines crash left the embattled plains of eastern Ukraine Wednesday, while British investigators began work on a pair of "black boxes" to retrieve da

    July 23, 2014

  • Attorney general sues 2 Minn. colleges ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota's attorney general has filed a lawsuit against two colleges, accusing the schools of misleading criminal justice students about their ability to land a job in their field and about transferring credits to other instit

    July 22, 2014

  • sniper wife pic Jurors start considering Ventura case ST. PAUL — An attorney for Jesse Ventura asked a federal jury Tuesday to award the former Minnesota governor millions of dollars in damages for what he claimed is a lie in a memoir by the late military sniper Chris Kyle. Ventura testified during the

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Target debuts shopping app "In a Snap" will recognize images

    July 22, 2014

  • Feds to monitor Newark police Probe found pattern of unconstitutional policing

    July 22, 2014

  • Thousands without power due to storms MCGREGOR (AP) — Thousands of Minnesotans are without electricity after powerful storms moved through central and northeastern Minnesota. Strong winds of 50 to 70 mph knocked down trees and power lines overnight Monday. Minnesota Power and Lake Count

    July 22, 2014

  • Ellison urges Minn. to aid Central American minors ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota congressman is leading efforts to bring more unaccompanied children fleeing Central America to the state. But, immigration advocates and nonprofit groups that serve refugees are concerned Minnesota might not be abl

    July 22, 2014

  • Detroit retirees back pension cuts by a landslide DETROIT (AP) — A year after filing for bankruptcy, Detroit is building momentum to get out, especially after workers and retirees voted in favor of major pension changes just a few weeks before a judge holds a crucial trial that could end the largest

    July 22, 2014