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National Retail Federation forecasts holiday sales to Increase 3.7 percent

From Illinois Business Journal news services

WASHINGTON – The National Retail Federation announced today it expects sales in November and December (excluding autos, gas and restaurant sales) to increase 3.7 percent to $630.5 billion — significantly higher than the 10-year average of 2.5 percent.

Holiday sales in 2015 are expected to represent approximately 19 percent of the retail industry’s annual sales of $3.2 trillion. Additionally, NRF is forecasting online sales to increase between 6 percent and 8 percent to as much as $105 billion.

“With several months of solid retail sales behind us, we’re heading into the all-important holiday season fully expecting to see healthy growth,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “However, while economic indicators have improved in several areas, Americans remain somewhat torn between their desire and their ability to spend; the fact remains consumers still have the weight of the economy on their minds, further explaining the complex retail spending environment we are seeing right now. We expect families to spend prudently and deliberately, though still less constrained than what we saw even two years ago.”

Shay said he expects retailers will be competitive not only on price, but on digital initiatives, store hours and product offerings.

Holiday sales in 2014 increased 4.1 percent over the previous year.

“Similar to last year in the sense we’re coming off a rather disappointing first half, this holiday season brings to light several crosscurrents that still exist for American households,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “While confidence data is encouraging, slower job growth in 2015, deflationary retail prices and the mix of consumer spending somewhat shifting toward big ticket items and services, as well as the wild card in our government spending debates, will all contribute to the slower growth rate of sales expected for the holiday season.”

NRF’s holiday sales forecast is based on an economic model using several indicators including, consumer credit, disposable personal income and previous monthly retail sales releases. It also includes the non-store category (direct-to-consumer, kiosks and online sales.)

According to NRF, retailers are expected to hire between 700,000 and 750,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, in line with last year’s 714,000 new holiday positions.

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries.

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