SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)_ The holiday shopping season officially begins in less than a week, but California’s high unemployment rate could trigger a sluggish retail season, even though the National Retail Federation is predicting more spending per consumer this year.

The latest jobless figures show that California has the third highest unemployment rate in the country at 12.4 percent. That economic status may have shoppers veering toward low-end retailers.

It isn’t quite as bad in the Bay Area, but a lot of people are still out of work.

KCBS’ Barbara Taylor Reports:

Taryn Sievers, a senior vice president and financial analyst at Morgan Stanley, says that could put a damper on the holiday shopping season.

“Uncertainty about any job situation makes people more careful about spending money, said Sievers.

She also noted that unemployment benefits expire on November 30th for a million people, so-called “99-ers” who receive unemployment checks for 99 weeks.

“That’s going to be unfortunate too in terms of consumer spending and possible decrease in personal income,” added Sievers.

A recent survey by the National Retail Federation predicts that consumers will actually spent about seven dollars more or an average of $689 dollars.

This year Sievers said she thinks the spending that does occur will trend more toward stores like Wal-Mart and Target than Neiman Marcus and Saks’.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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