Consumers nationally are planning a slight increase in holiday spending this year, according to a study released Tuesday by the National Retail Federation.
But local analysts wonder if that will be the case in Wichita, with the continued aviation layoffs and uncertainty surrounding Hawker Beechcraft's future.
NRF's 2010 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, indicates consumers plan to spend an average of $688.87 on holiday-related shopping, up about $7 from last year.
"Consumers will still shop with the economy in the back of their minds, but we're starting to see shoppers take baby steps toward a new normal," NRF president Matthew Shay said in a statement.
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In Wichita, retailers are going to have to market harder for the shopping dollar, said Cindy Claycomb, a marketing professor at Wichita State University.
"Probably, customers are going to be looking again for sales and promotional-type deals like we've seen in the last few years," she said.
"Customers will shop, I suspect, but they're going to want to wait for the big opportunities where they can save some dollars. If retailers can offer what customers perceive as a special value, that will lure people in."
But those special deals can do as much harm as good in the restaurant business, said Don Sayler, president of the Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association.
"Everyone's concerned," he said."... All those good deals to get people in the door, the coupons, the two-for-one deals, then you go back to regular pricing. It takes a while to overcome that."
Sayler said his members would be happy with flat holiday sales.
"Last holiday season, our members were seeing that either parties were cut totally or budgets were cut for them. Obviously, holiday parties are a big boon," he said.
"The sentiment this year is it will be about the same or more so, because of more layoffs. Although the economists say the recession ended a year ago in June, I don't think we're seeing that in Wichita."
Claycomb said a flat Christmas retailing season in Wichita would be good news with the stream of aviation job losses.
"I hope it's that good, because there's just a lot of uncertainty about what's going to happen to jobs here," she said.
"If nothing happens soon on another layoff or more information about (Hawker Beechcraft), people may put that in the back of their minds and get through the holidays.
"But if the uncertainty keeps boiling around town, I wonder just how much people are going to shop."