Holiday Sales Looking Up

A summer of modest economic growth is helping to boost confidence in the economy which may translate to a stronger holiday shopping season, according to economists.

Buoyed by a improved consumer confidence and strong business investment, the economy expanded at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the July-September quarter, the government said Thursday.

That may translate to a stronger holiday shopping season.

"We actually think we're going to have a very decent retail season. The LAEDC is forecasting retail holiday growth at 2.5 to 3 percent this year," said Kimberly Ritter-Martinez from the LA County Economic Development Corporation.

"It's a little bit slower than last year but its growth none the less and its building on what we saw from a year ago."

In California, employment will continue to grow, particularly in the information section which includes television and motion picture production, Ritter-Martinez said.

"That's been one of the best economic drivers in the region over the past couple of years and has added probably the most jobs," Ritter-Martinez said.

Economists project an annual growth rate of 2.5 percent to 3 percent for the October-December quarter and for all of next year-- just enough to keep the unemployment rate from rising.

But economists warned that even their modest assessment of growth of around 2.7 percent for next year will fall short if the European debt crisis isn't resolved.

And the outlook could dim further if U.S. lawmakers allow a Social Security tax cut and extended unemployment benefits to expire at the end of this year.

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