Help Wanted: Retailers Optimistic

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The signs are up at some local retailers: Now hiring.

We found clothing stores, restaurants, even electronics outlets looking for help.

"We are trying to hire up some additional staff to take care of the customers," Okemos Best Buy General Manager Deb Vargovic said.

Vargovic says she's planning to hire about a dozen workers at her store, some full and some part time. A number of those will be the usual seasonal hires. Others won't.

"I'm actually increasing it a little bit this year because we expect some higher sales," Vargovic said.

That optimism comes as new numbers show other retailers take a similar view.

"Mid-Michigan came in third behind the West and North," Michigan Retailers' Association CEO Larry Meyer said.

That's the third most positive outlook among retailers for the months ahead, according to the Michigan Retail Index. That is to say, store owners think the coming back to school shopping season could be a good one.

But Meyer says the positives are limited.

"Michigan continues to struggle economically," he said.

Those struggles are apparent to Michigan stores. Despite a rosy outlook, the retail index shows June sales down. And they've been down for 19 of the last 21 months.

Still, Meyer says he's hopeful. The combination of retailers' optimism and a potential turnaround at major Michigan institutions like General Motors could be signs of something good to come, he says.

"It's going in the right direction, finally," Meyer said.

It’s a change that could mean jobs for Michigan workers.