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Small Businesses Should Not Expect Merry Holiday Retail Season, Deloitte Reports

Written by Ken Gaebler
Published: 9/21/2009

Retail sales for this year's holiday shopping season are expected to be flat compared to the previous year, Deloitte projected.

Deloitte Retail group had both good and bad news for small business owners on Monday, noting that, while the 2009 holiday spending season is not expected to post negative numbers, it will likely not bring retailers back into the black either.

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The accounting and consulting firm projected that retail sales for the holiday season will remain unchanged compared to the previous year, reaching approximately $810 billion.

"While the level of economic uncertainty may be lower than a year ago, consumers will likely proceed cautiously into the holiday season," said Stacy Janiak, vice chairman and U.S. retail leader for Deloitte.

Though many retailers have responded by adjusting inventory and cutting costs, scenario planning that accounts for different market conditions may also help businesses "navigate these uncertain times," Janiak advised.

"Retailers should also consider placing customer insights at the forefront of their decisions around merchandising, pricing and promotions," she added, noting that IT channels such as mobile applications and social media can be another way to engage consumers.

However, a gradual increase in consumer spending may soften the blow to small businesses - the latest data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that personal consumption expenditures increased for the third consecutive month with a growth of 0.2 percent in July.

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