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S&P Predicts Flat Retail Finale as Customers Count Pennies

(NEW YORK, NY) - Standard  & Poor's credit analyst Gerald A. Hirshberg is calling for a cool retail 2008 finale with total sales expected to only match last year's $255 billion number.

"The end of 2008 is shaping up to be the most difficult holiday season in memory for U.S. retailers," Hirshberg says.

"Faced with a torrent of challenges, including a horrible housing market, rising unemployment, falling consumer spending, declining consumer confidence, extraordinary stock market volatility, and uncertainty in the financial markets, the domestic retail industry is back on its heels."

He says "the final quarter of 2008 will be a poor one as consumers continue to rein in their shopping and that they will continue their long-standing history of waiting for last-minute bargains during the holiday."

He adds, "With this as a background and the evidence of steadily declining same-store sales throughout the retail sector, we are predicting that November-December GAFO (clothing, accessories, department stores, discount stores, sporting goods, book stores, toy stores, consumer electronics, music, home furnishings, and other goods) sales will at best be flat with last year's $255 billion."

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