Retailers Facing a Potential "Strike Out" this Holiday Season

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RIT Expert Analyzes Factors that will Make or Break Holiday Retail Sales

If the holiday shopping season were a baseball game, retailers would be a heavy underdog—already facing two strikes with the final pitch on its way.

Eugene Fram, the J. Warren McClure Research Professor of Marketing at Rochester Institute of Technology’s College of Business, says the factors have been stacking up against retailers as early as last summer. Facing a sluggish economy, retail analysts and retail executives started talking about anticipating a soft holiday season and holding inventories tight. Strike one!

"This was an unusual stance for retailers to take," explains Fram. "Public discussions of cutbacks to the press can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, especially when making these comments as early as August."

The situation worsened just one month later with terrorist attacks on New York City and suburban Washington, D.C. The events of Sept. 11 forced a decline in personal buying confidence and raised concerns over large-scale job layoffs. With the count now standing at two strikes, Fram says the final pitch is left in the hands of Mother Nature.

"If severe weather should cross the nation from mid- to late-December, it could completely knock retail sales out of the batter’s box in a manner that will adversely affect the economy in the coming year."

Eugene Fram has written 100 journal articles and six books and is frequently quoted by the press on marketing and management topics. Primary areas of expertise include retail malls and shopping, Internet retailing, nonprofit activity, careers and advertising. He also has an active consulting practice serving individuals, consumers and nonprofit organizations.

To arrange an interview with Fram, contact Paul Stella at RIT University News Services at (716) 475-4950 or