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Wisconsin merchants hopeful for holiday shopping season

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Shoppers crowd the walkways on opening day of the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre in east London September 13, 2011. REUTERS/Suzann
Shoppers crowd the walkways on opening day of the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre in east London September 13, 2011. REUTERS/Suzann

UNDATED (WSAU)  Many Wisconsin retailers appear to be optimistic about improved sales during the holiday shopping season. The National Retail Federation expects sales to increase by 4.1-percent from last Christmas.

It was almost a month ago when Kohl’s Department Stores announced a 10-percent increase in its temporary holiday workforce. Now retailers in central Wisconsin hope that a slight increase in county sales tax revenues will result in a better season for them.

Marathon County collected $10-million from its half-percent sales tax last year – up by almost six-percent from the year before. And based on collections through September, the county is on schedule to at least match that increase in 2012. Kao Lor, who manages the Gaming Generations video game store in Rib Mountain, tells the Wausau Daily Herald that the holiday season is crucial for his store’s survival.

U-W Stevens Point economics professor Randy Cray says the higher county tax collections are a good sign – but they’re not the biggest factor in predicting holiday shopping trends. Don Kulinski of Target in Weston says he’s optimistic – but with a slow economic recovery, he says not everyone can afford pricey electronic items. He says a number of shoppers could look more at necessary items like housewares and clothing.

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