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NRF forecasts strong holiday season sales

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Increases of 4.3% to 4.8% over last year are projected

WASHINGTON— The National Retail Federation said on Wednesday that holiday retail sales this November and December will increase between 4.3% and 4.8% over last year’s figures. The average annual increase over the past five years has been 3.9%.

“Our forecast reflects the overall strength of the industry,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “Thanks to a healthy economy and strong consumer confidence, we believe that this holiday season will continue to reflect the growth we’ve seen over the past year. While there is concern about the impacts of an escalating trade war, we are optimistic that the pace of economic activity will continue to increase through the end of the year.”

Holiday sales in 2017 totaled $687.87 billion, which was a 5.3% increase over 2016 and the largest increase since the 5.2% year-over-year gain seen in 2010 after the end of the Great Recession. (NRF’s figures exclude sales of cars or gasoline, or at restaurants.)

“Last year’s strong results were thanks to growing wages, stronger employment and higher confidence, complemented by anticipation of tax cuts that led consumers to spend more than expected,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “With this year’s forecast, we continue to see strong momentum from consumers as they do the heavy lifting in supporting our economy. The combination of increased job creation, improved wages, tamed inflation and an increase in net worth all provide the capacity and the confidence to spend.”

NRF said the holiday forecast is consistent with its prediction that annual retail sales for 2018 will increase by at least 4.5% over last year.

The retail trade association said its holiday forecast takes into account such indicators as consumer credit, disposable personal income and previous monthly retail sales. The number includes online and other non-store sales. For historic sales information visit NRF’s Holiday Headquarters.

Retailers will also be hiring extra staff to help handle the increased holiday traffic. As part of its forecast, NRF expects retailers to hire between 585,000 and 650,000 temporary workers this holiday season, up from last year’s 582,500.


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