Combination of Hope and Fear for the 2014 Shopping Season

The holiday season was a four-week test to see how Americans will spend their money in retailers. Shoppers started the season more confident this year due to six months of strong economic growth, growing wages and a sharp decline in gasoline prices. While shoppers had more confidence, retailers remained cautious.

Macy’s Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores are two of the major retailers that cut their financial forecasts.  The biggest driver of economic growth in the U.S. is consumer spending. An estimated 140 million people planned to shop Thanksgiving weekend, and the National Retail Federation expected an increase of 4.1 percent in sales this past November.

The economic outlook and data going into the holiday shopping season was solid. Personal spending had increased 0.2 percent to fund everything from clothing and cars to heating and haircuts. Compared to personal spending, real disposable personal income was only up 0.1% percent. U.S. gross domestic product has the strongest six-month stretch since 2003 increasing from 3.9 percent to 4.6 percent. The big drop in gasoline prices adds to the strong expectations for the holiday shopping season. Retailers still remained cautious before the holiday season about how strong the effect of lower gas prices will have on consumer spending habits.

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Nick Banks

Nick created Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group in 2002 and spent the first eight years developing and acquiring office and retail projects in South Florida as well as North Central Florida. In 2010 the focus of the firm was shifted to primarily serve third party clients and perform brokerage, property management and mortgage banking functions. Nick has personally developed and acquired nearly 200,000 square feet of office and retail properties in markets throughout Florida. Prior to founding Front Street, Nick was the Director of Finance and Dispositions for Stiles Corporation in Fort Lauderdale where he financed and sold over $500 million in commercial real estate. Before joining Stiles, Nick was an Associate Director at GE Capital Real Estate where he sourced over $200 million in financing throughout Florida. Nick is a graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in Finance and a concentration in Real Estate. He serves as a board member and current vice-chair for the United Way of North Central Florida where he also chairs the Development Committee. Nick is actively involved with the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce where he serves as a board member and committee member for the Council for Economic Outreach. He is also a recent graduate of Leadership Gainesville which is a year long leadership program hosted by the Chamber. He is a member of Grace United Methodist Church where he has served as finance chair and as a member of the leadership council. Nick serves as an advisory board member of the University of Florida Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies. Nick was recently named chair of the Gainesville committee for the North Florida chapter of Urban Land Institute (ULI). He is a licensed real estate broker in the State of Florida and is a long time member of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

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