Will this be a bright Christmas for area retailers?
FSU professor James Gwartney says despite fluctuating gas prices and a record hurricane season, local businesses should be seeing green this holiday season.
"The economy has performed well over the past two to three years. People have larger funds for spending, which otherwise would have been the case if we would have had an economic down-turn," says Gwartney, who expects an above average shopping season, but nothing record-breaking.
What he describes as a "lack-luster" season cannot be blamed on gas prices alone, but on Florida's recent hurricanes, which he says have consumed about 10 percent of the nation's disposable income.
"A lot of us had relatives in the storm ravaged areas. A lot of us had victims live with them, and that put a strain on family budgets," adds Gwartney.
Amon Chandler helps manage The Body Shop at Governor's Square Mall. She's hoping recent events will not become the Grinch that stole Christmas.
"The store is already prepared for this season. We've already gotten our Christmas gifts, and as more seasonal things come in we are hoping this will get the customers in the spirit to buy more," says Chandler.
Professor Gwartney says the failure or success of this shopping season will signal which direction the economy will turn in 2006.
Later this month, the Florida Retail Federation will come out with its predictions for the holiday buying season and also talk about some of the "hot buys" this Christmas.