Shopping aftermath

Marie Havenga • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:59 AM

They're buying clearance merchandise instead.

“This was Santa's best year,” Spring Lake Township resident Angela Butler said while making a return at Kohl's in Norton Shores on Wednesday. “I looked around the store and the deals are ridiculous. I'm going back to my car to get my credit card.”

Retailers hope Butler's after-holiday shopping spirit is contagious and lights a fire under sluggish sales.

National statistics initially predicted a 3-4 percent uptick in holiday sales from last year. But MasterCard's early estimates indicate the actual number is about the size of a tick — 0.7 percent.

Analysts are pointing to Hurricane Sandy, grief over the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings and fear of potential "fiscal cliff" tax hikes as possible shopping depressants.

According to Bankrate.com, 33 percent of shoppers surveyed said they're concerned enough with possible tax increases that they're spending less than they had previously planned.

The National Retail Federation is sticking to its forecast of a 4.1 percent increase for November and December sales, for a total of $586 billion.

Final numbers won't be known until late January — after many consumers redeem gift cards they got for Christmas.

Michigan retailers remain upbeat — 66 percent of those surveyed said they expected better holiday sales than last year. That's the highest level of optimism in a decade, according to the Michigan Retailers Association.

Locally, shoppers and storeowners said they believe the shopping season was successful.

Kiley Ryan, logistics processes manager for the Target store at 5057 Harvey St. in Norton Shores, said sales have remained strong both before and after Christmas.

To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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