New York City — Investors are pessimistic about this holiday season and the financial well-being of consumers in a challenging economic environment. Shares of most retailers fell Wednesday.
"Shoppers are thinking twice about what they are buying," said Jennifer Black, president of Jennifer Black & Associates, an equity research company in Lake Oswego, Ore. "There's a feeling of worry."
Black, along with other analysts, made the rounds at malls in Oregon and New Jersey, noting that even with gift cards, shoppers remained tightfisted Wednesday, focusing on bargains despite fresh offerings from merchants.
The International Council of Shopping Centers said Wednesday that same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year during the November-December period, are coming in just below already slim projections for a 2.5 percent gain, though it said a post-Christmas buying splurge could erase that shortfall. That contrasts to a more upbeat assessment from its chief economist, Michael P. Niemira, who predicted following the weekend that holiday sales could at least meet forecasts.