Forecast: Holiday Shopping Season Will Be Jolly

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NRF Predicts Retail Sales Will Rise 4.3% or More in November and December

Holiday sales this year are expected to increase between 4.3% and 4.8% over 2017 levels, according to a new forecast from the National Retail Federation, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group. Those numbers compare to an average annual increase of 3.9% in the past five years, according to the group.

The NRF predicts U.S. retail sales in November and December will be between $717.5 billion and $720.9 billion. The totals exclude sales of automobiles and gasoline and money spent at restaurants.

“Our forecast reflects the overall strength of the industry,” says Matthew Shay, NRF president and chief executive officer. “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.”

In 2017, holiday sales totaled $687.87 billion — a 5.3% jump over 2016 and the “largest increase since the 5.2% year-over-year gain seen in 2010 after the end of the Great Recession,” according to the NRF.

“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,” says Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist. “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.”

For all of 2018, the NRF expects retail sales to be up 4.5% over 2017.

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