CIT: Mixed Outlook Clouds Holidays

CITNEW YORK-Middle-market retail executives participating in a CIT Group survey gave mixed views about the outcome of the holiday shopping season and the economy as a whole.

One out of three retail executives said they expect holiday sales to grow minimally, from 1 to 5 percent. Twelve percent said they expect a decrease in holiday sales. However, one out of four executives said retail sales would grow from 6 to 10 percent for this holiday season.

The executives’ overview of the economy was similarly mixed. Forty-five percent said an economic recovery is already here and well under way. However, 55 percent said they don’t expect a recovery to emerge until later, and nearly 25 percent said they don’t think a recovery will materialize until 2015.

Burt Feinberg, president of CIT corporate finance for commercial and industrial, characterized the executives’ forecast for the holidays as “a wintry mix. More than 60 percent say that high unemployment will continue to hurt sales, and 53 percent say overall economic uncertainty is having a dampening effect.”

Seventy percent of the participating executives said their own financial condition is healthy, but 25 percent said they are reducing the schedules to existing employees to 30 hours or less. Also, 27 percent said online and mobile business models are disrupting their business. Sixty-one percent of the respondents said they see an uneven recovery developing, which seems to favoring wealthier consumers over middle- and lower-income shoppers.