Though the average per-gallon price of gasoline has dropped 88 cents from a month ago, personal spending continues to fall as people squirrel away money to protect themselves amid fears of a worsening economy, Kyser said.
The nation’s personal-saving rate rose to 1.3% in September, up from 0.8% in August, according to an October report from the U.S. Department of Commerce. But the stock market has continued its nose dive — down 56% since January — while the national unemployment rate rose in October to the highest level since 1994.
“Lots of people are concerned about what’s going to happen next,” Kyser said. “More people are putting money in the bank and paying down bills in case something happens.”
Personal saving could sink local retail sales figures, officials said, where malls are looking to drive up their customer count with new events they hope will cull shoppers.
The Americana, which will be experiencing its first holiday shopping season after opening earlier this year, is slated to hold a public ceremony Saturday to light its 100-foot Christmas tree. The high-end mall could also benefit from consumers who have not experienced holiday shopping at the outdoor center, Kyser said.
“The thing they’ve got going there is newness and diversion,” he said. “It’s not just a plain old mall. But for every retailer this Christmas, it will be extremely challenging.”
Other mall events in the region include the Galleria’s “pet night,” on the first three Mondays in December, where customers can shop with a dog or cat, and a fundraiser at the Town Center mall Saturday for 10 local nonprofit groups.