Michigan Retailers 'Cautiously Optimistic' About Upcoming Holiday Shopping Season

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'Cautiously optimistic' -- that's the outlook for this year's holiday sales forecast in Michigan.

While the Michigan Retailers Association is predicting a gain of about 1.3 percent this year, those gains aren't as big as the more than three percent bump seen in 2012.

"Consumers and businesses like certainty and we don't have that direction right now," said Jim Hallen, president and CEO of the Michigan Retailers Association.

The lack of certainty stems from what's happening in Washington, from the recent shutdown, to the looming debt ceiling crisis, to even the recent botched launch of the government's healthcare website, according to Hallan.

"People have been a little hesitant and that came forward in our poll," he said. "It's tempered but it's still a good forecast but certainty from Washington would be helpful."

This year's shopping season--because of a late Thanksgiving--will also be six days shorter than 2012, another factor behind the smaller forecast.

"Last year there were five weekends and this year there are four weekends, people will getting their shopping done as they always do, but it'll be more compressed," he said.

The holiday season makes up about 40 percent of sales for retailers for the entire year.

Though Hallan said despite the timid forecast, cheaper gas prices this year coupled with lower unemployment numbers could still boost sales higher than expected by the time Christmas arrives.

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