Consumers starting to spend, spend, spend again
Things are looking up for retailers. According to the government, consumer spending continues to go up -- in spite of this year's tax hikes. Local stores believe they're turning the tide.
One of those stores is Nazareth Music Company. Tucked into a tiny Main Street storefront, the place makes a lot of music.
"Band instruments and stringed instruments -- orchestra instruments," said president Scott Brodt.
Nazareth Music has withstood five decades of booms and busts, but the last few years have been especially lean.
"Everybody shut down," said Brodt. "They stepped back from everything: private lessons, getting involved in just about every activity. Everybody took a step back."
But things are starting to look up, something economists are seeing on Main Streets throughout America.
The latest U.S. Commerce Department figures show consumers spending one-point-one percent more, the biggest jump since September. Part of that is due to higher gas prices. Still though, people are spending more -- even after Social Security Taxes went up this year.
"Things have been looking up; they've been better than expected," said Barbara Saslo, owner of Barbara's Treasures in Nazareth.
Saslo took a big risk by opening her store just as the recession hit. Now she says the gamble is finally paying off, in part because of tourists visiting Martin Guitars.
"We are very hopeful," she said.
Back at Nazareth Music, sales are still sluggish, but rentals are way up.
"People are happy to get the kids started by just renting an instrument, just to see how they do," said Brodt.
Parents like Ivelisse Hogan of Macungie are starting to spend money on their kids' musical instruments again.
"It's tight, but we need to think in the future, and knowledge and schooling -- education -- is priceless," she said.
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