By Joel Craig, NEWS 9 Contributor
Retail analyst Paul Kelly talks about this year's unusual shopping season, including holiday shopping trends specific to Oklahoma.
The industry retail is saying this is the worst holiday sales season since 1969. There have been several downturns in the economy over the past 40 years. Kelly believed Oklahomans have been somewhat isolated from this national retail trend.
In general it all starts with the consumer. Consumers today have less disposable income to spend because of three things that occurred this year that have never occurred at the same time with past downturns-- Energy costs more than doubled, the stock market's correction and consumer uncertainty over their jobs and the direction of the economy.
"While the economy here isn't like that of say Detroit, not all retailers have been able to contain this. We've been seeing 50, 60 and 70 percent off sales since before Thanksgiving. This type of markdown is normally only seen after the holidays are over," Kelly said.
Stores need to reduce inventory and turn it into operating capitol to pay the bills. In other parts of the country there have been drastic price cutting with even prestige lines cut by 50 percent. Retailers are faced having to dispose of large inventories and still stay profitable.
In some parts of the country stores like Macy's stayed open 24 hours up to Christmas Eve to lure shoppers. Kelly believes this shows retailers will continue with deep discounts into January, because many retailers close their fiscal year in January. They want to get rid of excess inventory on their books.
There has also been a decline in print and broadcast advertising from previous years, which makes it harder for consumers to find those special deals.
Kelly said the Web is one of the first places people should look by checking retailer's Web sites and you email inbox. The internet allows retailers to target their advertising to those who want to know and of course is more cost effective.