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Retailers ready to see rebate shopping spree

After Congress and the White House reach a final agreement outlining the terms of an economic stimulus package, it is almost certain taxpayers can expect a check from the federal government to arrive some time late spring or early summer.

Individuals will receive a $600 rebate, while couples will get in the neighborhood of $1,200, with child credits pushing that number higher.

And the National Retail Federation (NRF) could not be happier about it.

“We are heartened that congressional leaders in the House, working with the administration, have set aside partisan differences and are working together to help the U.S. economy and American families,” said Steve Pfister senior vice president for government relations for the NRF.

Historically, tax rebates are good news for retailers. Consumers with extra money can mean extra profits. That was the case during the early months of President Bush’s first term, when a similar stimulus package was passed.

“If history repeats itself, we’ll see an increase in business,” said Eddie Maloney, president of Cowboy Maloney’s Electric City, an electronics and home appliance store with locations throughout the state. “I’m looking for the same thing.”

Maloney said big-ticket entertainment items — televisions, stereo systems, DVD players — are best-sellers.

“People aren’t usually going to buy a washer or dryer,” he said. “The people who don’t save (their tax rebate), they’re going to buy something that will increase their quality of life.”

For merchants who cater more to high-end clientele, the impact will not likely be as great.

John Rabenstein of Juniker Jewelry said the downturn in the economy so far has had no negative bearing on his business, nor does he expect the stimulus package to have anything other than a negligible affect.

“My customers aren’t going to be affected by getting $300 or $600 dollars back,” Rabenstein said. “We had a great day Saturday, one of our best in a while.”

Contact MBJ staff writer Clay Chandler at clay.chandler@ msbusiness.com .

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