The struggling economy has left its mark on the last few holiday seasons in New Jersey. Will the same happen again this year? Are people ready to spend? Local retailers in the Garden State wish they knew the answers.

From extended hours to special promotions and events, merchants this year are doing whatever they can to get customers in the door.                

The holiday season, in the past, was a big time for mom-and-pop jewelry retailers. However, that's no longer the case, according to Neil Seidman with Gold-N-Time Jewelers in Manalapan.

"Traditionally, that's becoming less and less of a drive for retailers like myself," explains Seidman.

Seidman says consumers are still complaining that they are strapped for disposable income, and luxury purchases are not something they are truly considering.

He adds, "If they are going to make purchases, the type of merchandise that they will be purchasing will be different than the types of jewelry they purchased in the past. The materials will be substitutes; instead of fine gold and fine silver, things will be made out of stainless steels and other alternative metals."

He expects stores like his will have a hard time making a successful holiday season this year. 

Meanwhile, at David Bradley Chocolatier in Manalapan, the staff is predicting a pleasant end of the year in sales.

"As of right now, business is actually better this year than it was last year, so I have to say this year's holiday season will be better than last," explains the chocolatier's Barbara Pirozzi.

Pirozzi says the holidays are the best time of year for the business, and the last few months of the year help keep the shop open.                  

A few miles down Route 9, forecasts are also looking bright for Toy Genius in Old Bridge, which is undergoing its second holiday season at its current location.

The store's Jeffrey Singman says the holidays represent close to 35-percent of the annual revenue for Toy Genius.

"We believe we'll do well this holiday season, specifically because we are very different than your average toy store," explains Singman. "Our high level of customer service is a differentiator that our customers love and enjoy."

Financial adviser Deloitte reports that while a grim economy has the potential to dampen consumer spending, not all is lost for retailers this upcoming holiday season. Deloitte expects a slight gain for in-store sales.