Volume 95, Issue 48
Tuesday, November 27, 2001
Profs, store owners differ on economy
Are we in a recession or not?
By Jill Shaw
Retailers are asking Santa for a merry, money-making Christmas season this year in the face of an economic slowdown.
Robert Fisher, a marketing professor at the Richard Ivey School of Business, said concern about jobs and Christmas bonuses is one of the main causes of an economic slowdown. "People are faced with the real prospect of not earning money in the new year," he said.
"The economy probably is in a recession shrinking mildly," said Western economics professor David Laidler, adding the recession is likely to have a greater impact in the United States. However, parts of Canada that have economic relations south of the border, particularly Ontario, are vulnerable to American economic trends.
Norman Eligh, a Sears store manager at Westmount Mall, said the economic slowdown as a whole has likely had an impact on consumer spending.
But despite hints of a recession, Eligh forecasted a financially successful Christmas for his store. "Sales should be slightly better than last year," he said.
However, Eligh said he felt consumer spending at his store was down in September as a result of the attacks in the United States.
Fisher said he also believes the Sept. 11 attacks impacted consumer spending. "People feel less materialistic," he said.
While he believes the travel industry will be most severely affected by a Christmas spending slowdown, Fisher said consumers are purchasing small treats to reward themselves, which is something they would not ordinarily do.
"People are making a big switch from travel to goods that make it easier to have fun at home," Laidler said.
While Fisher said individual stores have little ability to affect the industry, Eligh was optimistic about returned consumer spending. "Things have come back quite nicely. People are saying we're not going to let these guys get us down, people still have to live their lives," he said
Marie Bennett, manager of Artifex in the University Community Centre, said she is expecting sales this Christmas season to be the same, if not better, than last year.
"Christmas is about counting blessings. People feel like celebrating," Bennett said.
Michelle Belanger, a first-year social science student, said she will spend the same this year as in previous years. "I haven't really thought about it," she said of reports of an economic slowdown.
Copyright © The Gazette 2001