It’s hard to gauge how this holiday season is going to go in terms of the economy. On the one hand, the season is being pushed earlier than ever with some stores being open on Thanksgiving Day. Consumer website founder Julia Scott puts it this way. “People aren’t waiting for their Thanksgiving turkey to be digested to start shopping this year.” At least that’s the hope of retailers.

Whether that will be borne out appears to be iffy at best. According to the store traffic measuring firm ShopperTrak, retail sales in November and December could well be their weakest since 2009. It’s projecting that sales for this major two-month window will be no better than 2.4 percent over last year. In 2012, sales were up 3 percent and in 2010 and 2011 they were higher by 4 percent.

Meanwhile, a new Gallup poll says most consumers don’t plan to spend any more than they did last year on the holidays. And 26 percent of respondents say they plan to spend less.

That consumers are skittish does not surprise Scott. She acknowledges that the post-recession recovery hasn’t been all that anyone would have hoped for. Economic hardship remains a reality for many individuals who have been forced to take on unwanted and burdensome credit card debt just to survive. And that has led many to seek the benefits of debt relief through bankruptcy or other means, as might be appropriate.

Wisdom dictates that those faced with such issues would do well to consult an attorney to learn all their options for obtaining protection from legal action from creditors.

Source:, “Americans Plan to Trim the Tree and their Holiday Budgets this Year,” Kate Rogers, Nov. 15, 2013