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Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - December 15, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 4A The Cedar Rapids Gazette: Sun.. Dec. 15, 1971 Retailers Find Shoppers Optimistic, but Cautious By Dale Kielcr If ever there were a challenge to those involved in the no- tion's retail business sellers, buyers and promoters it would have to be Christmas, 1974. There is always an amalgamation of factors which enter into a consumer's decision to buy or wait, but the Ingredients this year are so multitudinous as to tax any retailer's ho-ho- ho. "To try and second guess, to project what Christmas buy- ing trends will be, is really wild this said an advertis- ing executive. And retailers in Cedar Rapids, the community being a pocket of prosperity while most of the nation is cloaked in economic gloom, are luckier than most. Even thaugh unemployment In Linn county Is less than 2 percent undoubtedly among the lowest In the country retailers are faced with an apprehensive public, a Gazette survey shows. Add in the factors of inflation and a late Thanksgiving and the local Christmas shopping picture would be fortunate to hold even in terms of volume with a year ago. But, Harold Ewoldt, general manager of the Cedar Rap- ids-Marion Area Chamber of Commerce, said merchants are happy with Christmas business, "and there don't seem to be any soft spots." Bundle Ewoldt believes that the generally optimistic spirit of area residents; the balanced farm-industry economy; and sound employment picture can be credited for continued re- tail prosperity here. While all of the merchants contacted by The Gazette were optimistic, nearly all talked about a more cautious customer this Christmas season, and one expects some shoppers to wake up in 1975 with a bundle of bills that may be tough to pay off. In spite of the. area's solid economy, the number of bad checks written to retailers is at a record high. One retail outlet said bad checks are running double a year ago. Most merchants report business is running ahead of a year ago, but that can be confusing unless the terms are New Russian Roulette. Driving a Car MOSCOW (UPI) Along with a rapid rise in automo- bile production in the Soviet Union has come an inevitable consequence a big increase in the number of traffic ac- cidents. The Soviet Union has never been forthcoming about its bad news, including accident statistics. But a nationwide accident prevention month has just given some idea about the gravity of the traffic problem. Boris Shumilin, deputy inte- rior minister, said on televi- sion that the accident rate this year has Increased 85.5 per- cent over previous years. The home-produced Zhiguli automobile, the Flat 124 made under license, now is reaching the market in large numbers. The government newspaper Izvestia said at least of the 1.5 million Zhigulis pro- duced have been involved in accidents so far this year. According to Shumilin, 300 persons died and were injured in accidents in the Novosibirsk region during the first eight months of this year. In Azerbaijan, 350 per- sons died during the same pe- riod, he said. If the figures for sparsely populated areas in Siberia and central Asia are so high, the accident rates in population centers such as Moscow and Leningrad may well be appall- ing. Shumilin did not give details. Moscow has 7.5 million in- habitants and about automobiles, a small propor- tion of cars to people com- pared to Western cities. De- spite the relatively sparse traffic, driving in Moscow can be hazardous. Streets are badly lit, badly posted and often potholed. Cars weave from lane to lane at 50 or 60 miles an hour without signaling. Passing on the right is frequent. Visibility in winter is poor and roads often are iced over. Drivers make U-turns in the middle of the busiest highways and often don't use headlights. Outside the city, conditions arc worse. Traffic crawls along two-lane highways that lack both passing lanes and hard verges. Half the time rear lights are obscured by mud and even at night drivers often use only parking lights. To make things worse, this is a nation of brand-new driv- ers. The National Automobile society said last year that only a third of Soviet drivers have been properly trained. Most automobiles lack basic safety features such as col- lapsible steering columns and seat belts. According to law, automobiles are supposed In come equipped with seat belts. Few do, apparently because of a bureaucratic mixup in the Ministry of Light Industry. Soviet sources said factories have produced an excess of seat belt buckles, but not enough webbing to make the belts themselves. Pedestrians cause many accidents. Moskovsky Kom- somolets said pedestrians were involved in more than half of Moscow's accidents in September. It said police that month stopped nearly pedestrians for violating traff- ic rules and fined of them on the spot. Moscow drivers all tell of narrowly missing, or hitting, pedestri- ans weaving across darkened streets under the influence of vodka. ON THIS DATE in 1918, the U.S. supreme court upheld the National Prohibition act. beautiful gift books] Ajoytogivo...adolightto read! Hallmark Editions are bound to please everyone on your Christmas list. clear. A 10 percent Increase ii sales may reflect nothing more than Inflation. It would be difficult to say how much more'lt would cost Santa Claus If he went shopping with the same list this year as last. In October, the metropolitan consumer price Index was 11.8 percent higher than a year ago for all items. But some items, like toys, arc not checked. And It is difficult to assess real growth too because of factors like special promotions. "We have had specials on coats this explained Al Percinsky, president of Arm- "To pal It In terms real grtwth Is difficult this year." Peremsky dated, we Just by sales." Armstrong's Is Inking far Christmas sales be abeat 8 to II percent last year. "It's a little better than we expected, considering the said Peremsky. "We're pleased, and have had good crowds in spite of all the negative talk. "People arc shopping more carefully this he con- tinued, "to get the best possible buy. They just aren't throw- ing their money out like in some years." Peremsky said it.is pleasing that Cedar Rapids is bucking the national trend. Harold Wendbrf, president of Klllian's, said, "We're not running any great race, but people are buying. It is a good Christmas season and we'll be ahead of last year." Wendorf said the key factor has been five less selling days because Thanksgiving the traditional sendriff of the holiday shopping season fell as late as it possibly can this year. Later Start Hence, many people got started with their Christmas shopping later than usual. Most merchants expect, and hope, that it will mean heavier than usual buying in the immediate days before Christmas. Wendorf said Killian's has not experienced any noticeable change in cash versus charge sales. However, both K mart and Montgomery Ward officials say credit sales are the highest ever. "I think it is an indication that money is getting a little said Ron Barnes, manager at Wards. "Most people are willing to charge for Christinas." Ckarta Bnkaw, maiager K mart f est. Mid charge accents are IB aid same may be leaded trtible. "Seme dM't have Ike mraey MW, bit Iklik they will have It later." Barnes said Wards sales are running ahead of last year, "but we don't anticipate any big increase for the month." He said Wards sales were up about 9 percent for the first 11 days of December. Sale of snow tires, given a strong boost by early snow- falls, has been the main reason for gains at Wards, Barnes said. Ho noted the emphasis this year on practical gifts, with one exception. "Our sale of pool tables has been just fantas- tic. Maybe it means some people are planning lo spend a lot of time at home next he said. Nof Buying Decorations K mart's Brokaw said shoppers are really going for the advertised specials this year. He said K mart business is running ahead of last year. "We were apprehensive about building our inventory too he said. "It was about the same as last year." Brokaw, and several other merchandisers, pointed out one extremely weak area this year. People just aren't pur- chasing Christmas decorations, lights and similar holiday ornamentation. Christmas card sales, which took a dip last year, are run- ning about the same as 1973, stores report. Reports that Sears had cut its inventory are not true, at least for the Cedar Rapids store. Manager Harold Armstrong said Sears' policy is for each store to determine its own needs. i "I'm sure things are different in Detroit this he said. "But our business is above a year ago. We haven't not- iced the effects of the economy yet, but the auto industry rip- ple may soon reach here." Armstrong said Sears has had strong sales in television and radio. "The hardware department has been good. People have been buying tools as gifts. "People are definitely looking for values. There Is no doubt aboul that." At Pennky's. Manager Blake Garske said a lot of lute shoppers are anticipated, but that business has been good. Practical gifts of clothing have been the rule at Penney's, too. At Penney's Toyland, "Evel Knlevel stuff has been said Garske. Also a big seller is a game called air hockey even though It has a sizable price tag. Several stores agreed air hockey is the season's best seller in the toy department. A strug flalsfc Is anticipated by Bill Haves, maaag. er at Ytvikera. toy bcci enelfeit, al- thaigh bicycle sales have slewed dawn. "Calculators have continued to sell he said. "I feel, because of our unique situation in Cedar Rapids, that there really isn't any reason not to have a good Christmas shopping said Hayes. Sanford's toy buyer, Evelyn Drinovsky, said she has no complaints about sales. "I was a little skeptical at the begin- she confessed, "but I am glad lo have good sources for reordering stock." She reports that trains have made a big comeback this year, along with car-racing sets. "We're keeping up with last year in terms of she said. British Seek Kidney Donors LONDON (AP) Britain's health ministry plans to dis- tribute two million cards in supermarkets and pharmacies to boost the number of kidney donors for transplant opera- tions. The cards have a space fur the consent of next-of-kin of prospective donors to satisfy a British law that the nearest relative of a dead person must consent tn removal of an organ fur transplant. Officials said the card in the possession of a dying patient automatically would make it possible for doctors to contact ..transplant teams to carry out the patient's wishes. A kidney must be removed from a body within an hour of death to be suitable for reuse. The requirement for obtaining next-of-kin approval often has posed major problems for Bri- tish surgeons. 28 YEARS AGO Russia denounced the tieaty signed Dec. 2 between the U.S. and the Chinese Nationalists. r YEAR-END FAMOUS NAME Men's Qothing Top Quality Suits Our annual year-end close-out of suits includes the latest fashions from Hart Schaffner Marx, Kingsridge, Johnny Carson and Cricketeer. All wools blends, double knits and texturized polyesters in a good selec tion of colors and styles. 8110 lo 81 15...... s 120 to 8125...... Sl.'iO in Sl.Ti...... ion 81 K) lo 81 15..... 8150 in 8160..... 8165 to .SI70..... 8175 lo 8180..... Also, a group of fine qualiiy suits in assort- ed colors and sizes that were priced from to ARMSTRONG MEN'S CLOTHING-THIRD FLOOR Car Coats rrr 890 A clearance group of all wool carcoats in (weed and solid colors. All have warm acrylic or wool linings, some with acrylic pile col- lars. Sizes for most men. Sport Coats WITI- X70 III 2 A group of handsome sport coins in a good selection of new fall colors and styles. lor most men. ARMSTRONG MEN'S CLOTHING-THIRD FLOOR XOW. I I XOW. I OFF Handsome Slacks were 27.50 16 flood quality po- lyester woven slacks. Choose from popular colors in checks and plaids. (or inns! men.
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