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Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - December 15, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa The Cedar Rapids Payette: Sun., Dec. 15, 1974 Retailers Find Shoppers Optimistic, but Cautious By Dale Kiefer If ever there were a challenge to those involved in the nation’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-hn “To try and second guess, to project what Christmas buying trends will be, is really wild this year,” said an advertising 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 though 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 Of Bills Ewoldt believes that the generally optimistic spirit of area residents, the balanced farm-industry economy; and sound employment picture can be credited for continued retail 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 ran be confusing unless the terms are clear A IO percent increase ii sales may reflect nothing more than inflation. , It would be difficult to say how much more it would cost Santa Claus if he went shopping with the same list this year as last In October, the metropolitan consumer price index was 118 percent higher than a year ago — for all items. But shmo items, like toys, are not checked And it is difficult to assess real growth too because of factors like special promotions “We have had specials on coats this year.” explained Al Peremsky, president of Armstrong’s. ”T§ pot It la terms if real growth Is difficult this year.” Peremsky Bited, “si, we just ga by sales " Armstrong's Is licking fir Christmas sales ta be abaut 8 ti ll percent above last year. “It's a little better than we expected, considering the economy," said Peremsky. “We’re pleased, and have had good crowds in spite of all the negative talk. “People are shopping more carefully this year." he continued, “to get the best possible buy. They just aren’t throwing their money out like in some years.” Peremsky said it is pleasing that Cedar Rapids is bucking the national trend. Harold Wendorf. president of Killian'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 sendoff 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 tighter,” said Ron Barnes, manager at Wards. “Most people are willing to charge for Christmas.” ‘ Charles Brokaw, manager af K mart West, said charge accauuts are up aud same peapie may be headed far trauble. “Same don't have the mauey new. but think 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 ll days of December. Sale of snow tires, given a strong boost by early snowfalls, has been the main reason for gains at Wards. Barnes said. He noted the emphasis this year on practical gifts, with one exception “Our sale of pool tables has been just fantastic. Maybe it means some people are planning to spend a Int of time at home next year,” he said. Not 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 high.” 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 purchasing Christmas decorations, lights and similar holiday ornamentation Christmas card sales, which took a dip last year, are running 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’m sure things are different in Detroit this year,” he said. "But our business is above a year ago. We haven’t noticed the effects of the economy yet, but the auto industry ripple 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 about that.” At fennby’s, Manager Blake Garske said a lot of late 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 Knievel stuff has been hot," 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 strang finish Is als* anticipated bv BHI Haves, manag er at Ynankers. “Oar tty basinets has been excellent, al-thengh bicycle sales have slewed dawn “Calculators have continued to sell well,” 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 season," said Hayes. Sanford’s toy buyer, Evelyn Dnnovsky, said she has no complaints about sales “I was a little skeptical at the beginning,” she confessed, “but I ani glad to 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 dollars,” she said British Seek Kidney Donors LONDON (AP) — Britain's health ministry plans to distribute two million cards in supermarkets and pharmacies to boost the number of kidney donors for transplant operations. The cards have a space for the consent of next-of-kin of prospective donors to satisfy a British law that the nearest relative of a dead person must consent to removal of an organ for transplant. Officials said the card in the possession of a dying patient automatically would make it |M»ssible 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 (Mist'd major problems for British surgeons. 21 YEARS AGO - Russia denounced the treaty signed Dec. 2 between the U.S. and the Chinese Nationalists New Russian Roulette: beautiful gift books A joy to give...a delight to read! Hallmark Editions are bound to please everyone on your Christmas list Driving a Car MOSCOW (UPI) - Along with a rapid rise in automobile production in the Soviet Union has come an inevitable consequence — a big increase in the number of traffic accidents. 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 Bons Shumilin. deputy interior minister, said on television that the accident rate this year has increased 85 5 percent over previous years. The home-produced Zhiguli automobile, the Plat 124 made under license, now is reaching the market in large numbers The government newspaper Izvestia said at least 40. OOO of the 15 million Zhigulis produced have been involved in accidents so far this year According to Shumilm, 300 persons died and 2,000 were injured in 2.000 accidents in the Novosibirsk region during the first eight months of this year. In Azerbaijan, 350 per sons died during the same period. 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 appalling Shumilin did not give details Moscow has 7.5 million inhabitants and about 250.000 automobiles, a small proportion of cars to people compared to Western cities Despite the relatively .sparse traffic, driving in Moscow can be hazardous. Streets are badly lit, badly posted and often potholed ('ars weave from lane to lane at 50 or 80 miles an hour without signaling Passing on the right is frequent Visibility J in winter is poor and roads I often are iced over. Drivers j make U turns in the middle of i the busiest highways and often j don’t use headlights. Outside the city, conditions are worse Traffic crawls along two-la ne 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 j a third of Soviet drivers have I been properly trained Most automobiles lack basic safety features such as collapsible steering columns and seat belts According to law, automobiles are supposed to I come equipped with seat belts. Few do, apparently because of a bureaucratic I mixup rn the Ministry of Light j Industry. Soviet sources said factories have produced an excess of seat belt buckles, J but not enough webbing to make the belts themselves Pedestrians cause many accidents Moskovsky Kom- j sornolets said pedestrians were involved in more than half of Moscow’s accidents in September It said police that j month stopped nearly AO OOO pedestrians for violating traff ic rules and fined 56,515 of them on the spot Moscow I drivers all tell of narrowly | missing, or hitting, pedestn- I i ans weaving across darkened ; I streets under the influence of I vodka ON THIS DATE in 1918, the U.S supreme court upheld the National Prohibition ad. (lur (JUllS \\ en* #75 lo >190 20%" 1 Sport Coats were STO lo X KHI Handsome Slacks were 27.50 Va ,. Vz ».i A clearance group of all wool curcoats in tweed and solid colors. All have warm acrylic or wool linings, some with acrylic pile collars. Sizes for most men. A group of handsome sport coats in a g<M*1 selection of new fall colors and styles. Sizes lor most men. Good quality textunzed polyester woven slacks. ( boose from popular colors in checks and plaids. Sizes for most men. ARMSTRONG MEN S CLOTHING-THIRD FLOOR YEAR-END FAMOUS AAME Men’s Clothing CLEARANCE Top Quality Suits Our annual vear-end close-out of suits includes the latest fashions from Hart Sehaffner & Marx, Kingsridge, Johnny Carson and Cricketeer. All wools polyester wool blends, double knits and texturized polyesters in a good selec tion of colors and styles. J* I OO «*iiii*..... SOW* *7» xI lo lo XI 15. .. vow. “I in *1 lo lo XI 15. MIW. -‘itll XI 50 to XI OO vow. - I an XI20 lo x|25 SOW. -WM #165 to XI TO vow.■ i an XI to to #155... ... SOW. ■ i on XI 75 to XI HO vow.“i in Also, a group of fine quality suits in assorted colors and sizes that were priced from $100 to $175. l/f lo */2 OFF ARMSTRONG MEN S CLOTHING-THIRD FLOOR
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