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NRF sees happy holiday for retailers

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Forecast of 3.6% sales gain for season

WASHINGTON — Retail sales this holiday season will be better than usual, according to the National Retail Federation.

The NRF on Tuesday forecast that sales in November and December (excluding autos, gas and restaurant sales) will increase a solid 3.6% to $655.8 billion. That is significantly higher than the 10-year average of 2.5% and also above the seven-year average of 3.4% covering the years since the economic recovery began in 2009.

NRF is also predicting that non-store sales — including direct-to-consumer, kiosk and online sales — will increase between 7% and 10%, to as much as $117 billion.

“All of the fundamentals are in a good place, giving strength to consumers and leading us to believe that this will be a very positive holiday season,” NRF president and chief executive officer Matthew Shay said. “This year hasn’t been perfect, starting with a long summer and unseasonably warm fall, but our forecast reflects the very realistic steady momentum of the economy and industry expectations. We remain optimistic that the pace of economic activity will pick up in the near term.”

Holiday sales in 2015 increased 3% over the previous year.

“Consumers have seen steady job and income gains throughout the year, resulting in continued confidence and the greater use of credit, which bodes well for more spending throughout the holiday season,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Increased geopolitical uncertainty, the presidential election outcome and unseasonably warm weather are the main issues at play with the greatest potential to shake consumer confidence and impact shopping patterns. However, the economic spending power of the consumer is resilient and it should never be underestimated.”

NRF said its holiday sales forecast takes into account several economic indicators, including consumer credit, disposable personal income and previous monthly retail sales releases. Historic sales information is available from NRF’s Holiday Headquarters and its Retail Insight Center.

NRF is also predicting that retailers will hire between 640,000 and 690,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, in line with last year’s 675,300 new holiday positions.


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