Local stores see increase in consumer spending

FRESNO, Calif.

The Commerce Department said spending was up 1.1 percent in September. The increase is small, but the figures show consumer spending up to the highest level in two years.

Sales of clothing, and electronics -- namely the iPhone -- pushed consumer spending up more than one percent. It may not look like much, but retail sales are 70 percent of the economy, and stores are now banking on big Halloween and Christmas selling seasons.

Consumers are feeling better, and retailers are seeing green. Caitlin Asadoorian, a manager at the Target store in River Park, says sales started climbing during the summer. "We've definitely seen an influx of sales since the beginning of August."

The latest figures from the Department of Commerce show sales jumped 1.1 percent in September. iPhone sales were a significant part of the increase. And now, Halloween sales are booming -- up 10 percent nationally.

Fresno Halloween store manager Tommy Luna has noticed a jump. "Business is really picking up compared to last year."

Customers Action News spoke with are spending a bit more on the kids this year. "Slightly up from last year. Slightly up. You gotta splurge a little bit. Bring them out, let them enjoy themselves. That's what it's all about," said Todd Stone of Fresno.

Retail sales are up a little, unemployment is down slightly. Housing construction is surging and prices are going up.

Sal Cerna, a banker from Sanger, thinks this kind of news will have an impact on the presidential election. "I think it will. I think it will. It's been swaying lately towards Romney. I think any good news right now will sway it in Obama's favor. I think it's very fragile right now."

Fragile is right. The National Retail Federation says high gas prices, and the fiscal cliff facing the federal budget could push the country back into recession. But right now, shopping is a bright spot in the economy.

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