By Nandita Bose
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A slowdown in global consumer confidence threatens to overshadow the holiday shopping season in the United States, which despite a strong start is not immune to developments in Europe. Super Saturday, the last before Christmas and the biggest shopping day of the U.S. holiday season, is likely to bring in more than $26 billion in revenue, retail consultancy Customer Growth Partners (CGP) said, up from $24.5 billion a year ago.
But shares in U.S. retailers including Amazon Inc
"Many people are worried that this is as good as it gets, when it comes to spending and consumer confidence," Shawn Kravetz, Esplanade Capital LLC's chief investment officer, said.
A global index of retailers <.TRXFLDGLPUY4> has fallen by more than 17 percent in the past three months.
European gloom deepened on Wednesday after Ceconomy
GAS PRICE FUELS SPENDING
Consumers in the United States continue to spend for now and despite a sharp rise in online orders hurting spending in stores during the Thanksgiving weekend, bricks-and-mortar locations have since gained momentum. Holiday traffic to J.C. Penney
Traffic was 7 percent higher at Target Corp
A drop in the price of gasoline could insulate U.S. retailers from some of the pain felt elsewhere, with data from the American Automobile Association (AAA) on Dec. 17 showing the national gas price average of $2.37 is the cheapest seen during the month of December since 2016.
Last year holiday spending was depressed by about $2.5 billion after a rise in gas prices, but this year the drop in prices is likely to free up about $3 billion in spending, Craig Johnson, president at Customer Growth Partners said.
Johnson said this was particularly a factor for those on lower incomes, adding that "for the first time in three years, gas prices are going to add to spending and not hurt it."
BEST IN A DECADE At U.S. clothing retailers, better designs, fewer discounts and lower inventory, have resulted in less clutter on the sales floor and better customer traffic including at teen chains like American Eagle Outfitters Inc
That contrasts with Europe where fashion chains including Primark
Three consultants told Reuters they expect between 5 to 10 percent growth in U.S. apparel sales this holiday season but cautioned that sales growth at some large department stores like J.C. Penney might be slow. Demand in the category is being led by athleisure clothing at chains like Lululemon Athletica
(Reporting by Nandita Bose in New York, Additional reporting by Melissa Fares and Trevor Hunnicutt and in New York; Editing by Susan Fenton)