U.S. retailers' sales in November and December will be the worst in at least three decades, according to Britt Beemer, whose forecasts for Christmas spending were correct in 16 of the last 17 years.
"What I see happening today is like nothing I've seen in my lifetime,'' said the 57-year-old chairman of Charleston, South Carolina-based America'sGroup, which surveys as many as 10,000 consumers a week.
Before the credit crunch and Wall Street turmoil intensified last month, Beemer predicted same-store sales would drop as much as 2 percent in November and December from a year ago. Beemer revised his projection this week to a decline of as much as 4 percent following the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and moves by U.S. and European governments to prop up weakened banks.
"We're going to have a lot more spending reductions for Christmas than we could have imagined,'' he said in an interview.