* Holiday sales seen down 1 pct to up 1 pct - study
* Careful inventory, need for lower prices to remain
SEATTLE Aug 27 U.S. retailers could see sales
in the 2009 holiday season decline from last year's dismal
results or show only a slight increase, even in the best
scenario, according to a new forecast.
Retail sales this holiday season are likely to range from
up 1 percent to down 1 percent from last year, according to
market research firm Global Hunter Securities LLC.
Last year's sales showed a decline of 7.6 percent, the firm
said, citing various sources.
The forecast, one of the earliest leading up to the key
shopping season, takes into account the three-month period of
Halloween on Oct. 31, 2009 through Jan. 31, 2010.
Last year, retailers faced the toughest season in nearly
four decades as consumers hunkered down in the face of the Wall
Street crisis and recession. As demand remains lackluster,
retailers have cut inventory.
Lower inventory has become a mantra of sorts for retailers,
and there is "little reason to believe that retailers would
begin to order goods more enthusiastically," said Richard
Hastings, consumer strategist at Global Hunter Securities.
Inventory demand in the third and fourth quarters is
expected to drop 7.5 percent, he said.
But suppliers could see a silver lining in this year's
With 28 days from "Black Friday" -- the day after the Nov.
26 U.S. Thanksgiving that kicks off the holiday shopping season
-- to Christmas Eve, the 2009 shopping season is a day longer
than last year's. That means retailers might have to replenish
their merchandise stock late in the season, Hastings said.
(Reporting by Aarthi Sivaraman; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)