By FLO JONIC and KIM KALUNIAN
PROVIDENCE, RI – The head of the Rhode Island Retail Federation has a pessimistic view of holiday sales in the Ocean State. While the National Retail Federation is predicting a robust four percent growth in holiday sales, Paul DeRoche, director of the Rhode Island Retail Federation, expects it to be half that locally. "The economy is slow. Consumer confidence is not that great. So I think we'll have about a 1.5% to 2% growth over last year."
DeRoche says he'll lobby for a change in a state blue law that prohibits retailers from opening on Thanksgiving Day.
That pessimistic view is not shared by Professor of business administration at the University of Rhode Island, Edward Mazze. He says sales always increase after a national election, but the impacts of Hurricane Sandy will account for an even greater uptick, as consumers flock to replace goods damaged in the storm.
Mazze says consumers' concerns about spending money will ease this year, as people become more confident in the economy. "People are beginning to see that the economy is moving in the right direction, even slowly, and that results in the pent up demand."
Mazze predicts the increase in sales will be closer to 5 percent this November and December.
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