By LAUREN GIBBONS
Capital News Service
LANSING — Snowy weather and holiday cheer might seem far off for most shoppers, but Michigan retailers are already optimistic about a shopping season that experts say could be the most fruitful in more than a decade. October, November and December make up a key sales period for retail businesses, often accounting for at least 20 to 30 percent of total annual sales, Michigan Retailers Association senior vice president Tom Scott said. Scott said the past few years have gone well for retailers, but projections from the latest Michigan Retail Index by the association and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago indicate retailers are much more confident about sales increases than in the past. The report indicated 43 percent of the state’s retailers on average expect an increase of more than 5 percent from last year, and another 32 percent expect increases lower than 5 percent. An increase in confidence among shoppers likely correlates with an increase in consumer confidence as the economy improves, said Paul Isley, chair of the economics department at Grand Valley State University.