Business & Real Estate

Sacramento-area consumers expected to open wallets for holiday shopping

Shoppers flock to the Arden Fair Mall on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, in Sacramento, Calif. Economists say higher wages may prompt consumers to spend more this year, 2016.
Shoppers flock to the Arden Fair Mall on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, in Sacramento, Calif. Economists say higher wages may prompt consumers to spend more this year, 2016. aseng@sacbee.com

Sacramento-area consumers are expected to open their pocketbooks extra wide this holiday shopping season, buoyed by rising incomes and new confidence in the economy.

Jeffrey Michael, an economist at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, is predicting healthy growth in consumer spending.

“Overall, we’ll see a strong holiday shopping season,” said Michael, who heads the university’s Center for Business and Policy Research. “(Consumers) haven’t been increasing their spending as fast as their incomes have been growing.”

According to Michael, Sacramento’s per capita income grew 5.2 percent in 2015, which puts it in the top 10 percent of U.S. metropolitan areas.

Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at California State University, Channel Islands, painted a rosy picture for the holiday season, noting that the state is leading the nation’s economic recovery.

“Consumer spending in California will be fairly healthy this year. The price of real estate has gone up. The stock market is doing better. Consumers are in a good position to spend money,” Sohn said.

Arden Fair mall officials say they’re expecting around 80,000 shoppers on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. The mall will open at 6 p.m. on Thursday and close at midnight, before reopening again at 6 a.m. on Black Friday.

In previous years, the mall was closed on Thanksgiving and opened at midnight Thursday or later on Friday, resulting in a rush of shoppers when doors opened. Jamie Donley, senior marketing manager for Arden Fair, said she’s not expecting as much of a lineup this year outside the mall.

“It’s not the same rush as when you opened early on Black Friday,” she said.

The big question this holiday season, Michael said, isn’t about whether consumers will spend. It’s about where and how they’ll spend it – online or in stores. Traditional retailers, he said, “are fighting against the changing consumer shopping patterns.”

Consumers have more venues than ever to shop, from desktop computers to mobile apps. Several retailers this year have launched a slew of early Black Friday deals on their websites, including Best Buy, Macy’s and Wal-Mart.

Tom Meeker, a manager at the Best Buy store in Roseville, said associates are busy preparing for the influx of shoppers when the big-box chain opens at 5 p.m Thursday. The electronics retailer has reserved some of its best doorbuster deals for purchase exclusively at its brick-and-mortar locations.

A 49-inch Toshiba 4K television priced at $199 is expected to sell out quickly, Meeker said. “We will still have a large amount of customers.”

Richard Chang: 916-321-1018, @RichardYChang

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