Consumers' Mood Improves, But Will Sales Follow?

The economy has shown recent signs of improvement, but with unemployment still on the rise, are consumers ready to start spending again this holiday?

Retail Outlook

Amanda Walker, senior project editor for Consumer Reports, told CNBC that with the exception of electronics, which will report a slight increase, she expects holiday sales to come in flat.

According to a recent survey the group conducted, about 15 percent of the population reported problems with their credit card bills, while 14 percent are struggling to pay medical bills.

"Consumers are still having a lot of struggles out there," she said.

Still, Walker said the retail sector has improved since one year ago, as sentiment has risen substantially.

Pulse of the Consumer

Stepping Toward Growth

Matthew Rubel, CEO of Collective Brands , which owns Payless and Stride-Rite, said he's noticed that foot traffic has started translating into sales.

A colder October and low comparison numbers from one year ago helped same-store sales beat expectations last month, with the largest growth coming from children's footwear. While men are still acting cautiously, women have also started spending again, Rubel said.

"If things have a real reason, they will sell at any price," he said. "But if it's just your basic items, then people are really shopping around."