September 22, 2009, 12:00 AM

Holiday shoppers will remain thrifty, Deloitte predicts

Upcoming holiday sales will remain flat at about $810 billion, consulting firm Deloitte Services forecasts.

With bells just starting to jingle, consulting firm Deloitte Services is forecasting flat holiday sales for retailers. Deloitte predicts that overall retail sales for the holiday season from November through January will be about $810 billion again this year.

"Americans continue to save at historically high rates while also paying down debt, and these factors combined suggest another chilly holiday season," says Carl Steidtmann, chief economist with Deloitte Research, a subsidiary of Deloitte Services LP. "The consumer`s desire to spend may rally somewhat if gas prices remain stable, home values continue to strengthen and the stock market`s comeback persists," Steidtmann adds.

Flat sales would be an improvement over last year’s season which registered the first decline in holiday sales since 1967, a drop of 2.4%. Deloitte didn’t breakdown what portion of the overall sales would be online.

Deloitte says some retailers have been preparing well this year by adjusting inventory and closely managing their expenses. New technology could provide some bright spots, Deloitte says.

“The proliferation of mobile applications and social networks may yield new opportunities to pursue targeted advertising, build brand loyalty and measure campaign effectiveness," says Deloitte.

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