NRF Expects Solid Growth This Holiday Season

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The National Retail Federation has released its forecast for this year's holiday sales: an increase of 4.1%—higher than the 10-year average holiday-sales increase of 3.5%. “This is the most optimistic forecast NRF has released since the recession," says NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. "In spite of the uncertainties that exist in our economy and among consumers, we believe we’ll see solid holiday-sales growth this year.

"Variables—including an upcoming presidential election, confusion surrounding the ‘fiscal cliff’ and concern relating to future economic growth—could all combine to affect consumers’ spending plans, but overall we are optimistic that retailers' promotions will hit the right chord with holiday shoppers,” continues Shay.

NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz, Ph.D., adds, “While moderate compared to what we experienced the last two holiday seasons, the forecast is a very pragmatic look at what to expect this year given the current rate of economic growth. There’s still some general anxiety amongst consumers when it comes to how the state of the economy is impacting their spending plans, but retailers can expect to see excitement around their promotions and plenty of bargain hunters both online and in stores in the coming months.”

And for the first time in its history, NRF's Shop.org digital division released an online holiday-sales forecast. It expects sales to grow 12% over last holiday season.

“Online retail has been a bright spot for years, and we don’t expect that trend to change anytime soon—especially with the growth in mobile,” notes Shay. “Aside from the convenience, shoppers look to the holiday season to take advantage of retailers’ increased digital offerings. In addition to enhancing the site experience, retailers have spent the year investing in optimizing their mobile and social platforms—just what holiday shoppers are looking for.”

The NRF also forecasts that retailers are expected to hire between 585,000 and 625,000 seasonal workers this holiday season—about the same as last year.

[Image courtesy of Thinkstock]