BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Shoppers Wanted: State Revenues Falling Short; Officials Counting on Holiday Rush

By David Cruz
NJ Today

‘Twas the day before Christmas and at the Garden state plaza mall the rarest gift of all was – a parking spot. Such was the fervor of the last-minute shopper, intent on getting that last gift for that special someone, including Therese O’Shea, in from Colorado, visiting family.

“I’m shopping for my stepfather’s gift for my mother right now actually and stocking up on a few things for myself because we don’t have any shopping in Colorado,” she said, clutching shopping bags and balancing her coffee and car keys.

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But numbers released on Friday by the state treasurer report that tax revenue was $183 million less than anticipated in November –- that’s off by almost 11 percent, and while nobody likes a Grinch around the holidays Assembly Gary Schaer says the tax revenue figures amount to a lump of coal in the stocking of anyone who thought they’d see a tax cut next year.

“Right now because of lessening revenues, which, by the way, don’t really account for Hurricane Sandy as of yet, we will need a growth rate of 11.9 percent for the remaining seven months of the year in order to meet the budget projections,” said Schaer.

But the state treasurer does blame Hurricane Sandy for putting a damper on the season, but officials say they do expect a comeback in the second half of the state’s fiscal year, something Schaer says is optimistic, to say the least.

“Clearly the state’s going to need to rethink what it’s been doing,” said the Assemblyman. “It needs to rethink aggressive budget projections in favor of those which are more in line with that of other states and the federal government as a whole.”

At the mall today, and really over the past two weeks, shoppers have been throwing caution to the wind, enjoying the deep discount for the late shopper, according to mall publicist Deborah Mattes, who says the deep discounts have helped.

“I don’t know if it’s a standard but you’ve certainly seen it the last couple of years,” she said. “I think that as the economy improves and people’s optimism changes, I think you’ll see some of that roll back a little bit but sales are great around Christmas so you’ll probably see that as well every holiday season.”

While the numbers suggest that this may not be the merriest of Christmases for New Jersey retailers, you wouldn’t be able to tell that by looking around the mall today. It’s Christmas Eve and nothing beats a down economy like a little retail therapy.