Economy's Holiday Wish List: Buy Big-Ticket Items Several large retailers are hiring ten of thousands of people for the upcoming holiday shopping season. But analysts say sales of small-ticket items won't give the economy the jolt that big-ticket items would.

Economy's Holiday Wish List: Buy Big-Ticket Items

Economy's Holiday Wish List: Buy Big-Ticket Items

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/161792856/161796969" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Several large retailers are hiring ten of thousands of people for the upcoming holiday shopping season. But analysts say sales of small-ticket items won't give the economy the jolt that big-ticket items would.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Warning. It's only September and we have a story about holiday shopping. Large retailers like Wal-Mart and Toys 'R' Us are hiring tens of thousands of people for the upcoming holiday shopping season.

But NPR's Ailsa Chang reports that this seasonal hiring is not the best measure of how well the economy is doing.

AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: This holiday season, Toys 'R' Us is predicting one of its hottest sellers is going to be the Doc McStuffins doll by Disney. She's a girl who gives medical check-ups to her stuffed animals and toy fire trucks.

(SOUNDBITE OF AUDIO)

CHANG: To meet demand for Doc McStuffins and other big-name items, Toys 'R' Us has announced it is adding 45,000 jobs. That's a jump from the 40,000 seasonal workers it hired last year.

Wal-Mart is expecting to hire more than 50,000 people, also an increase from the last holiday.

But before you think that means consumer confidence and retail sales are bolting up, economists say think again.

Mesirow Financial's Diane Swonk says what you really want to see is an upswing in sales for big ticket items.

DIANE SWONK: Vehicle sales, home sales, everything you fill a home with, appliances, furniture, carpeting. And that's what's really been missing in the retail picture for some time now.

CHANG: Swonk says small ticket items just aren't a good indicator of the overall health of the economy.

Also, while Toys 'R' Us and Wal-Mart will add workers this Christmas, Target says it's going with fewer employees than last fall.

Ailsa Chang, NPR News, New York.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.