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ARE RETAIL SALES CLOSE TO A TURNAROUND?

The retail sector doesn’t hold much promise in the short term, said respondents to last week’s GlobeSt.com Quick Poll. Some 87% said they expect the retail-sales climate to continue to worsen, while the other 13% contend that it has hit bottom. Faith Hope Consolo, the chairman of Prudential Douglas Elliman’s retail leasing division in New York City, veers more toward the minority opinion. While she doesn’t contend that sector’s pain is over, Consolo sees some light at the end of the tunnel. She recently spoke with GlobeSt.com about retail’s future.

We’re almost there, but for the next several months, we’re going to have a series of stops and starts, some a little up and some a little down. But I feel excited, that the turn could be there if we would have consistency on some of the starts. The demand was soft, so you all of this pent up demand for shopping. The rich stopped shopping before everybody else stopped shopping, and they changed their pattern so much. Five pairs of Jimmy Choo’s turned into one pair turned into nothing.

The difference in this downturn is that it has affected everyone, from the Madoff scandal to the stock market. In the past, that wasn’t the case. But I’m excited because there are still pockets of strength and areas that will be overall less affected. If this stimulus program kicks in, then the demand will come back up on the radar screen, and it will be OK to go shopping, whether it’s Wal-Mart or Bergdorf. That will reignite the economy.

They’re all talking doom and gloom, and I’ve seen this before. We’re very close to the bottom. By the third quarter, we’ll be crawling back up. This is like follow the leader. All we need are two or three strong upticks, and that will create the domino effect. There are still some segments that are doing OK. Food segments are doing OK, fast fashion is doing OK. We have things to look forward to in retail.

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