Some experts say the higher rate of home foreclosures has made the valley’s economy worse than in most areas of the country. Analysts say valley-area retail sales are expected to drop about two percent from last year. Jeff Michael is a business forecaster at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. He says shoppers will scrutinize price tags while avoiding big-ticket items.
"I think shoppers probably don’t want to buy fewer presents. They want the stockings to be full, but them may buy less expensive or more practical gifts."
Michael points out that lower gasoline prices will put more money in consumers’ pockets and make it less painful to drive to stores. A spokeswoman for a retail association says while so-called brick and mortar stores will likely see a decline in revenue, Internet sales are expected to increase.