USC prof: Retailers suffering, doors closing

South Carolina’s jobless rate has topped 11 percent. The state’s unemployed rose 2700 up to more than 282,000. The national jobless rate jumped Friday from 8.9 percent in April to 9.4 percent in May, the highest in more than a quarter century.
At the beginning of the year, financial analysts had speculated that the economy could turn upward during the summer months. More recently, analysts said the economy would likely bottom out during the summer and eventually climb back up.
Dr. Richard Clodfelter with USC’s College of Hospitality, Sports and Retail Management, says he hopes that’s the case, and it’s still a rough time to be a retailer.  “There have been a lot of store closings out there.  But we get mixed signals.  It’s a forecast and no one really knows.  We get two months when retailers inch themselves up, and that’s followed by two months when they drop again.  We haven’t  had sustained direction one way or another.”   
Economists say this is the most severe economic slump since 1981.
Clodfelter says consumers are not spending, because of their fears.  “They’re scared of furloughs, losing their jobs, having gas prices go back up to $4.  A lot of customers still have the money but they’re electing to save it, waiting to see what happens.  A lot of customers aren’t going out to buy that new car or sweater.” 
Clodfelter says signs are being taken down and the lives of retailers have had to change in many cases.   “People have lost jobs across the board.  And it has happened in retail, too.  It happened at Goody’s recently, basically tossing out all those people.  And it’s even happening in state government.  All the teacher layoffs.  I never thought I would see that.  All of this is adding to the poor (retail) situation.”

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