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Mixed Reviews On Whether Looming Fiscal Cliff Is Harming Local Businesses

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By Robin Rieger

COLLINGSWOOD, NJ (CBS) – It’s a pretty picture of holiday cheer, thanks to decorations in Collingswood. But with the fiscal cliff looming, is the financial picture for businesses pretty, too? We got mixed reviews.

Laurie Cohen’s confections are sweet and her candy jar store is full. Unfortunately, she says her register is not.

“I don’t know if they’re worried because of the news constantly [being] about what’s going to happen to America, but as a small business owner, I really hope that they come back and they have Christmas spirit and they buy my candy,” Cohen says.

At Marlene’s, where dresses and jewelry are as enticing as candy, it’s a slightly different story.

“I’m seeing a little bit of an increase — more so than last year — but it’s not great,” explains store owner Marlene Gagliardi.

She places part of the blame on lawmakers.

“I think it’s ridiculous, totally ridiculous, that they can keep this country you know, hostage,” explains Gagliardi.

Shoppers we spoke to also gave mixed opinions on what they were spending on and why.

“When we think about the fiscal cliff, it’s something we know is going to happen. As we shop, we’re thrifty in our spending, but we’re not really, like, overly concerned about it,” says Sheila Greene of Camden.

Lou Burgo, of Oaklyn, says he is spending less.

“Our hands are tied, there’s nothing you can do. You buy what you can, you deal with it,” Burgo says.

Concetta Risilia, of Collingswood, says she will give her grandchildren the same amount of money she gave them last year, but…

“I’m on a pension, and the pension is not keeping up with inflation,” Risilia adds.

Collingswood mayor Jim Maley believes the economy in 2008 had a greater negative impact on people’s spending habits.

“Today, we have people that may be concerned about what happens with their taxes next year, but three, four years ago, we had people that knew a neighbor who had lost a job,” Maley says, adding that the Collingswood Cash Program is helping. For every fifty dollars in Collingswood Cash people buy, they get $20 extra to spend in town.

“You can go and take a friend to lunch because you have that little extra money,” says Janice Knodel of Collingswood.

And that helps restaurants stay busy, too.

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