Holiday Sales to Rise 3.9 Percent, Says NRF

NRFWASHINGTON-The National Retail Federation is projecting that total sales for the November-December holiday season will reach $602.1 billion, up 3.9 percent over the same period in 2012.

During last year’s holidays, sales increased 3.5 percent. In issuing this forecast, NRF cautioned that the actual results will hinge on how quickly the Obama administration and the Congress can reach an agreement to end the shutdown of the government. Matthew Shay, the trade group’s president and CEO, said that “without action, we face the potential of losing the faith Americans have in their leaders, and the pursuant decrease in consumer confidence.”

The shutdown aside, Shay said retailers are optimistic about the upcoming holidays. NRF also noted that the growth in the U.S. housing market and increased shopper demand for big-ticket merchandise provide reasons for a cautiously upbeat outlook.

Jack Kleinhenz, NRF’s chief economist, said, “The economy continues to expand, albeit at an unspectacular pace. In order for consumers to turn out this holiday season, we need to see steady improvements in income and job growth, as well as an agreement from Washington that puts the economic recovery first.”

Along with the NRF forecast, shop.org, the trade association’s online division, said online sales during the 2013 holidays should increase from 13 to 15 percent, to as much as $82 billion. During the fourth quarter of 2012, online sales were up 15.5 percent.

Shay said online and mobile continue to be a major growth path for retailers. “In addition to researching what their peers are saying online about products and gifts this holiday season, consumers will use the buy-online/pick-up-in-store option, retailers’ apps and mobile websites to find something special for their loved ones,” he said.