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Holiday Sales Up, But Small Businesses Still Struggle

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(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – The latest report on retail sales showed that holiday sales will jump 3.3 percent this year.

The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, raised its holiday forecast to 3.3 percent from its original projection that sales would climb 2.3 percent.

That would put holiday sales at $451.5 billion, close to the holiday 2007 levels of $452.8 billion and well above 2006’s $444.7 billion. The figure excludes auto, restaurant and gasoline sales.

Although the numbers sound good, as CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports, some small businesses said the projection doesn’t truly reflect their reality.

In suburban Forest Park, the sign outside of Two Fish Art Glass, a small glass company, reads “Santa says shop Two Fish.”

Owner Cecilia Hardacker said her company needs the business; so far sales are down 15 to 20% from last year.

“We’re real tied to housing market and it’s not coming up too quickly,” she said.

The store’s sluggish sales stood in direct contrast to the National Retail Federation’s predictions.

“That’s probably Wal-Mart, Amazon, some of the big places that do the volume that will give them a three percent bump,” Hardacker said.

For her own part, she said she’s just hoping to do well enough to stay open.

“We’re hanging in there,” she said.

The news was a little better at Krista K’s clothing boutique in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. Sales there aren’t down, but they aren’t expected to up.

“We’re pretty much staying consistent with last year,” Owner Krista Meyers said. “It would have to be a really strong next couple of weeks to add that lift.”

Krista K’s is one of some 800 stores in the Lakeview community.

Lakeview Chamber of Commerce executive director Heather Way said retail sales in the neighborhood have been all over the place – up, down, flat – but everyone is optimistic.

“I think the optimism is prompted by the items that are being sold. They’re seeing a shift from essential items to splurge items,” Way said.

That optimism among small businesses was widespread this holiday season. According to the National Retail Federation, 93.2 percent of owners said they’re optimistic about this holiday season. That’s the highest since 2007.