OMAHA, Neb. — Rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states are expected to see a not-as-jolly holiday retail season this year, according to a new monthly survey of bankers in the region.

More than half of bankers surveyed this month for the Rural Mainstreet Survey projected 2020 holiday retail sales to be down from 2019 as the coronavirus pandemic worsens across the country. The survey suggests those sales to be down 3.1% from last year.

The survey’s overall index fell to 46.8 in November from October’s 53.2 — the first time since April that the index has fallen. It still remains well ahead of the 35.5 reading in March, when the index bottomed out as the outbreak began.

Any score below 50 suggests a shrinking economy, while a score above 50 suggests a growing economy.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, said recent improvements in agriculture commodity prices, as well as federal farm support and the Federal Reserve’s record low interest, have underpinned the region’s economy.

“Still, only 6.5% of bankers reported economic improvements from October, while 12.9% detailed economic pullbacks for the month,” Goss said.

Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

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