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DENVER-Stronger-than-expected holiday sales and early winter tourism activity hint that local consumer confidence may be returning, according to the Denver Metro Chamber’s December Economic Indicators report. While September figures for all industry retail sales are down 1.0% throughout the Denver metro area, this represents an improvement from the June data that revealed a 2.3% decline for the first half of the year.

In addition, the Colorado stock index increased in October for the first time since March 2002 and the gains continued into November.

“The early ski season, improved retail sales, increased stock market index and steady unemployment rate are all trends that typically feed into improved consumer confidence,” says Chamber economist Patricia Silverstein of Development Research Partners, who compiles the monthly report. “Stronger consumer confidence could help us end the year on a high note.”

Denver metro’s unemployment rate held steady at 5.2% for the third month in a row. In addition, the Denver metro unemployment rate remains in the middle of the state and national unemployment rates of 5.0% and 5.3%, respectively.

The unemployment rate in October fell in four of the seven counties,remained steady in Jefferson County, and increased slightly in Adams and Denver counties.

“With tourism as one of Colorado’s largest industries, the early snowfall and positive national media coverage, our ski areas are receiving is good news to all of us,” says Joe Blake, President and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. “We’re hopeful retail sales continue to track well for the holiday season.”

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