RETAIL spending shows slight rise in Oklahoma


Tuesday, November 6th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Despite reports of declining consumer confidence, a survey shows that same-store retail sales in Oklahoma City and Tulsa grew faster than the national rate last month.

Oklahoma City sales increased 2.1 percent over October 2000, while Tulsa's grew 1.7 percent, according to data from Telecheck Services, Inc. Same-store retail sales nationwide rose 1.4 percent in October.

``It's something of a mixed bag,'' Rose State University economist Steve Smith said. Although Telecheck's figures are positive, Smith said they ``aren't much considering we're facing 2 percent inflation.''

``At least it's something of a bounce-back from September's activity,'' he said. ``It's hard to tell exactly how everything will work out at this point, but there are some positive indicators that support that things could turn around soon.''

William Ford, Telecheck's senior economist, said he expected to see consumer spending numbers improve after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Costume and party supplies for Halloween and patriotic decorations likely helped boost those numbers, Ford said.

The Telecheck Retail Index is based on a same-store comparison of the dollar volume of checks written by consumers at more than 27,000 of Telecheck's 272,000 subscribing locations.

Last year, Telecheck authorized more than $163 billion in checks, representing 3.2 billion transactions. Not all retailers subscribe to Telecheck services, so some cities and states are not represented in its survey.

Telecheck's latest figures indicate that sales in the southwest region grew 2 percent, with Texas leading those states with 2.3 percent growth. Oklahoma retail sales rose 1.9 percent from October 2000 and October 2001, and Missouri sales rose 2 percent.

Telecheck said retail sales in the southeast region led the nation with a 2.2 percent gain, with Louisiana leading the continental states with a 2.5 percent rise. Only Hawaii had a greater rise from October 2000 to October 2001, at 3.2 percent.

Craig Thomas, a senior economist at Economy.com, said a true economic forecast lies somewhere between good and bad.

``All told, the underlying structure of the economy is fairly sound,'' Thomas said. ``We have a war to contend with. That's the economy's bugaboo....There will be no more peace dividend for us.''