LANSING -- Michigan's retailers are expecting a very happy holiday season.
"It's been a really great year compared with previous years," says Erica Colley, a manager at the Target store in Okemos.
Sales there were up in November, prompting new hires of temporary staff, with December looking up, as well.
"It just feels constantly busy, and we're getting those consistent waves where there are just so many people up at the registers," Colley says. "People are definitely out shopping this year."
And Target is part of a much larger trend. New data out Wednesday from the Michigan Retailers Association show November sales saw their biggest year-over-year increase since 1999, from a sales index of under 40 in 2009 to better than 68 in 2010.
"The feedback we're getting from retailers is very optimistic," says Jim Hallan, president of the MRA. "It's the most enthused we've been in a number of years."
Hallan says the jump can be attributed to decreasing unemployment and a general optimism among shoppers -- leaving retailers expecting even bigger gains in December and a bright Christmas for their books.
The survey shows some 40 percent of Michigan retailers expect better year-over-year sales this month, with just 17 percent remaining pessimistic, and the rest saying they'll break even.
"We all hope it's going to be a steep incline," Hallan says. "But right now, the numbers are pointing in the right direction."