WMU News

More than lower consumer spending worries retailers

Dec. 4, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- Merchandisers and retail managers will have to work harder to make the holidays merry, according to WMU's Barbara J. Frazier, who specializes in retail entrepreneurship and the economic impact of retail businesses on rural and tourist areas.

"Not surprisingly, retailers are quite worried about the next few weeks. Several that I have talked with are scaling back the number of holiday hires, anticipating that sales will be lower this year," Frazier says.

The Sept. 11 terror attacks may weigh heavily on holiday sales, she notes. "While some of the large brands are rethinking their marketing plans, I think retailers will mostly be running more promotions with bigger markdowns this year. They had already placed orders before the attacks, and must now figure out how to sell it all."

But retailers' worries go beyond consumer confidence, she points out. "They seem to be very concerned with the security of their information systems, perhaps because of fears of terrorist attacks on communication systems. They also are concerned because a great deal of imported apparel is manufactured in Pakistan and other Mideast countries, and worry about getting merchandise.

Frazier is an assistant professor in the WMU Department of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Media contact: Gail H. Towns, 269 387-8400, gail.towns@wmich.edu

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