An economist’s expectations are not so jolly about this year’s holiday shopping sales nationwide, including in Missouri. Ernie Goss, with Creighton University in Nebraska, said two business surveys he does don’t show a lot of promise.

“Holiday and Christmas buying probably up about 3% to 4% — and most of that’s inflation,” Goss said. “So when you look at it, when you subtract out inflation, you’re at zero to 1% increase from last year at this time.”

Goss, who studies the Midwest economy, said high interest rates will impact holiday spending this year.

“One of the problems with it is credit card balances are maxed out, we’ve got the highest balances there on record. And of course, that individuals are paying 20% to 30% on balances that are carried forward,” he said. “So that’s a real issue. And we got a nation of credit, a lot of debt out there right now.”

Goss said the high interest rates are also taking away more income with increased mortgage rates.

“Individuals now are spending as much as 40 percent of their income on housing. Now, that shouldn’t be 28% to 30%, well it’s now that 40%,” Goss said. “Of course, that just that just reduces your ability to go out there and spend for the Christmas and holiday buying.”

According to Goss, he’s seeing people opting to get out of town instead of spending on gifts.

“A lot of buying is going into things like air travel and travel, even automobile travel to locations for leisure and hospitality,” he said.

Goss said October retail sales were not that good and were also down for September. He said some of that September buying was for seasonal purchases.

By Dar Danielson of Radio Iowa