Holiday Spending Expected to be Bleak

With the holiday shopping season underway, retailers are keeping a close eye on consumer spending.

Soaring gas and heating prices are expected to throw a wrench in this year's Christmas sales.

In Amarillo, retailers are not too worried.

"Even though some of those factors, like gas prices, people in Amarillo are not driving as far to get places as people in bigger cities. I think they will still be shopping," said Melissa Kalka, manager of the Kitchen Express in Amarillo.

With oil prices approaching an all-time time high, consumer confidence is dropping, to levels below where they were after Hurricane Katrina.

"When you've got less money to spend, obviously you got less to spend on Christmas or any other time of the year. Hopefully we won't see that here," said Bill Hall, Financial Advisor for Edward Jones.

But both Hall and Kalka say they don't think Amarillo will fit the national trend.

"There are more neighborhood, kinda little strip shopping areas where people, you know, they go to their neighborhood stores as opposed to the large mass-merchandisers," said Kalka.

The big retailers like Wal-Mart have already slashed their prices in anticipation of an even or lower holiday spending season.

But Hall says don't be mistaken, higher energy prices will affect your pocketbook.

"Maybe you don't go out and eat as much, maybe you spend a little less on Christmas this year. Maybe you don't try to put some of that spending on credit cards and maybe everybody just cuts back a little bit," said Hall.

But local retailers are hoping consumers don't cut back and prove economists wrong.