first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! It will take more than war, hurricanes, political unease and high gasoline prices to deter the American consumer this holiday season. Even with shaky consumer confidence figures, a mixed economic outlook and headlines of riots, bombs and political scandal, experts project a banner holiday shopping season. The most bleak forecast heralds at least a 3 percent growth in spending over last year – while some go as high as 9 percent. Craving iPods, velvet jackets and toys tricked out like hot rods, shoppers should spend in the neighborhood of $220 billion on holiday gifts, giving nervous retailers hope for a strong finish to the year. “Sure, things are tough,” said Michael O’Rourke, chief executive officer for Chatsworth-based beauty products manufacturer Sexy Hair Concepts and a panelist on holiday shopping held Wednesday at the Glendale Galleria. “But what do people do then? They go to the mall, kick up their heels and spend.” The average Angeleno will lay out $1,661 on holiday purchases, entertaining and charity, according to a survey by Deloitte & Touche’s Los Angeles office. The professional services firm took a conservative view of spending, projecting a 4 percent to 5 percent increase on the West Coast, but suggested in its forecast that shoppers’ moods have not soured. Why so many spendthrifts at a time of such economic uncertainty? Borrowing is still easy, said Jackie Fernandez, the partner in charge of Deloitte’s retail practice in Los Angeles. Even as consumer debt levels surge beyond $800 billion nationwide, according to online researcher, the load has not dimmed consumer enthusiasm. “Talking to people, I was surprised by how much spending they plan on doing, the dollar amounts, the number of presents,” Fernandez said. “There’s not a lot of gloom that shows up in the survey, so it’ll probably be a fairly good season this year.” And a tricky one to plan for, as well. With nearly an entire month of shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, stores have the added element of Hanukkah beginning Dec. 25. At a time when they normally shift into closeout mode and begin redeeming after-Christmas gift cards, stores will still have last-minute Hanukkah buyers browsing the aisles. With local employment on the rise, an influx of new residents and a still-robust housing market, Southern California could fare even better than the national norm. The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. projects a whopping 8 percent to 9 percent jump. While Jack Kyser, chief economist for the nonprofit business development group, noted the nervousness in the air, he figured enhanced personal incomes would trump malaise when it comes to spending. “People have gotten used to it,” Kyser said. “There’s a steady stream of bad news, so they just take it in stride. We’ve gotten hard-boiled about all the bad news, so people are willing to spend.” And Lina Lopez, out shopping Wednesday at the Galleria with her daughter Alyssa, was already stocking up for the holidays. The Los Angeles resident, a stay-at-home mom, picked up a pair of poinsettias at J.C. Penney in preparation for an upcoming holiday party. “Now, you can find better things,” she said, an armful of bags already hanging from her elbow. “If you wait, all the good stuff’s gone. It costs more, but it’s worth it.” Brent Hopkins, (818) 713-3738 [email protected]last_img

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