New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 17, 1982, New Braunfels, Texas
Economy blamed for decline in sales of Christmas trees
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a tree. Or would it?
Dealers in at least half a dozen major cities say sales of trees are slow this year and they blame uncertainty over the economy.
“It’s extremely slow so far,” said Bob Butler as he swept sawdust off his lot in the affluent Brentwood area of Los Angeles. It was a weekday morning and there were no customers.
"We're stocking probably 70 percent of normal because we don’t know what’s going on this year, how the public is going to react,” said Butler.
The story was the same in Detroit. “The way times are, you can’t expect too much,” said George Ikirt, who has been selling trees in the Detroit suburb of Warren for 35 years. Sales this year are off 25 percent.
William Boyd, vice president of merchandising at Frank’s Nursery Stores, a high-volume chain in Detroit, also said sales were flat. “After all. when we talk about essentials, the sun will come up tomorrow with or without a tree," Boyd added.
The national picture is far from uniform, however.
Glen Decker of the Northwest Optimist Club in Oklahoma City said, “We’re just about sold out.” He said prices have risen slightly since last year, but “the majority of them (customers) don’t seem to mind.”
Jerry Walker, manager of Apple’s Christmas Tree Farm just outside Plymouth, Ind., said: “We’re
satisfied with how the season’s going. You would think that with the economy being bad, that-people would end up with a smaller tree, but I don’t think ifs necessarily so.”
Walker’s trees are priced by the foot — $2.12 a foot on trees under eight feet, $2.55 a foot on larger trees.
At the Grower’s Market in Cambridge, Mass., a six-foot balsam fir goes for about $25 — an increase of about IO percent from last year. Manager Frederick Ewing said he didn’t know how sales would end up. “Call me Dec. 25 and I’ll tell you,” Ewing said. “This is the kind of business that you can’t guess about.”
Like Butler in California, several dealers said they were stocking fewer trees — just in case.
LONDON (AP> — Secretary of State George P. Shultz is winding up a two-week European tour today amid reports of a breakthrough that could improve prospects for overall peace talks in the Middle East.
Shultz, who arrived here Thursday for the last stop of his European trip. will meet today with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Foreign Secretary Francis Pym. He is to hold a joint news conference with Pym later today.
LLS officials traveling with Shultz had no comment on the reports that Jordan's King Hussein and Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat had reached an accord under which Hussein could represent the Palestinians in peace negotiations with Israel.
But in light of the report, the officials, who declined to be identified, stressed the importance of Hussein’s visit to Washington next week President Reagan’s Sept. I peace plan envisioned self-government for Palestinians in association with Jordan, following the withdrawal of
OPEC seeks harmony
VIENNA. Austria I AP) - OPEC oil ministers gathered today to prepare for a year-end conference that members hope will smooth differences in the strife-ridden cartel and prevent a petroleum price war on the world market.
Ministers from Algeria. Indonesia. Venezuela, and the United Arab Emirates consulted privately before opening a day-long session of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries Market Monitoring Committee.
The session is aimed at studying proposals for stopping persistent overproduction and underpricing which has weakened the cartel’s unity in recent months.
While the glut un the world oil market has pressured OPEC to reduce its prices, internal bickering is seen by many Western analysts as the main threat to OPEC’s ability to survive.
But some observers say the 13 countries may be able to resolve their differences at the upcoming session, which opens at a Vienna hotel on
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Senate kills 5-cent gasoline tax
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Reagan is “pretty angry” that conservative Republicans forced the Senate to abandon a jobs-creating gasoline tax increase that he was pushing, Majority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. says.
Following a week of wrangling, Baker announced Thursday night that he was halting debate on the proposed nickel-a-gallon hike in the federal gasoline tax, and moving on to other legislative business.
Baker decided to give up on the tax hike measure after a move to choke off a filibuster failed by 12 votes, and a meeting among Baker, the opponents of the bill and other Republican legislators failed to soften the opposition.
Baker, R-Tenn., then called the president and told him that the bill would be shelved.
Asked about the telephone conversation, Baker said the president “was pretty angry about it. I don’t blame him, so was I.”
Debate on the tax increase — intended to finance $5.5 billion worth of highway, bridge and mass transit repair — had tied up the Senate all
week, and prevented action on a stopgap spending bill necessary to keep money flowing to the federal government after midnight.
Lost along with the gas tax hike was an amendment that would have provided up to six more weeks of jobless benefits for victims of the recession.
Although Baker insisted his decision to halt debate on the gas tax was temporary, other senators and aides conceded the bill was dead in the waning lame-duck Congress.
Trying to resume Senate consideration of the measure would not “have any chance of accomplishing anything positive,” said Sen. Pete V. Domenici, R-N.M.
It is expected that the administration will try again to gain passage of the legislation in the next Congress, which convenes next month.
Transportation Secretary Drew I^wis had said that unless there is action on the bill, the interstate highway system “will fall down around our ears.”
The proposal would have raised the federal gas tax from 4 cents a gallon to 9 cents. The Transportation Department said that new construction could create 320,000 new jobs.
The filibuster was conducted by conservative Republicans, principally Sens. Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire, Don Nickles of Oklahoma and Jesse Helms of North Carolina. All said a tax increase would reduce employment rather than create the thousands of construction jobs the sponsors claimed.
Before the Senate took up the bill, Humphrey had said, “Members of Congress are in a panic about unemployment and are determined to do something, even if ifs the wrong thing. And this is the wrong thing."
Although Baker wanted a final vote on the tax measure, which already has passed the Democratic-controlled House, he came under increasing pressure from impatient senators to put it aside and turn to the spending bill.
The president personally lobbied the opponents to change their mind, but to no avail.
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U.S. optimism grows for Middle East talks I
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Israel from the occupied West Bank of the Jordan River and the Gaza Strip.
The United States has been trying for years to entice Hussein to join the Camp David peace process, but the king, who relinquished any role as spokesman for the Palestinians after D the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, has balked at joining talks w ith Israel.
“I know that there has been some ... general agreement” between Hussein and Arafat, a senior British official told reporters here Thursday.
The official, who declined to identified, said he did not know any details of the accord and stressed that it would have to be ratified by the various Palestinian groups, possibly at a meeting of the Palestinian National Council early next year.
State Department spokesman John Hughes told reporters U S. officials W have seen reports indicating there has \j been progress between Arafat and Hussein but that he could not comment on them.
He said the Americans expect find out more when Hussein visits Washington next Tuesday
OPEC sources say delegation leaders are meeting in informal behind-the-scenes sessions today and Saturday to help uisure a smooth ministerial session.
We hope to be able to ease the market problems,” United Arab Emirates Oil .Minister Maria Saeed Otaiba, chairman of the marketing committee, said shortly after arriving here. ‘ There is no magical solution. It depends on the various ministers, how far they can sacrifice.”
Industry analysts say the OPEC committee may propose increasing the group’s overall production ceiling.
But some members have ignored that by cutting prices and boosting output in an effort to increase sales in the glutted market.
A main dispute is between Saudi Arabia and the more radical OPEC members, led by Iran and Libya. The Saudis say while they have cut production and remained loyal to OPEC’s $34-per-barrel benchmark price, Iran and other countries have cut prices and increased sales.
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