A Merry Christmas for Shoppers? The Case for Optimism Part III

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US retail sales posted their biggest month-to-month jump in more than half a year. October's sales numbers are 7.3 percent higher than in 2010. That might point to a considerably stronger fourth quarter for consumer spending, which by some accounts makes up 70 percent of the US economy.

That cheery update from consumers complements this happy news from retail employers: the holiday hiring season is off to its fastest start since 2006, according Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., a global outplacement firm. Retail companies added more than 150,000 jobs in October, three times the jobs they added one year ago, and four times the October 2008 figure.

Finally, retailers are optimistic that 2010 will be the year that e-readers break into the mainstream for good. In a recent Consumer Reports poll, one out of ten adults said they planned to gift an e-reader this year, up from one in 25 in 2009, according to the New York Times.

Read more cases for optimism! Part I here, Part II here.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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