Retailers ring in the holidays earlier in hopes of having buyers

With the holiday shopping season nearly here, many local retailers are not sure what to expect from shoppers.

In past years in Whatcom County, this is the season to stuff the shelves with products and hope there are no snow blizzards for the next six weeks to slow down shoppers. However, it's been a year since the financial meltdown and the subsequent crash on Wall Street. Consumers haven't indicated a willingness to start buying as in previous years, but it's possible they are waiting for the sales to start. This uncertainty makes it difficult for businesses to determine how much they should be spending on inventory.

"We're not expecting it to be super-slow, but I think there are some (retailers) that are a little anxious this year," said Gretchen Bjork, who owns Digs and Left Right Left in downtown Bellingham. "People have been holding back on their spending."

The uncertainty locally is also being seen on a national level, with industry experts giving differing projections on sales numbers. The National Retail Federation is predicting a 1 percent decline in holiday sales from last year's dismal season, while Deloitte's annual holiday survey expects to see an increase, with more than half of respondents saying they'll spend the same or more than last year.

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