Customer Growth Partners forecasts sluggish 2.8% rise in holiday sales; apparel and accessories strongest categories

New York -- Holiday sales will reach a record $556.8 billion, a sluggish 2.8% increase from 2011, according to retail consultancy Customer Growth Partners’ 11th annual Holiday Forecast.  

“The forecast is less than half of 2011’s 5.8% growth rate, and represents a further deceleration from this year’s already tepid 3.7% back-to-school season growth,” said Craig R. Johnson, president, Customer Growth Partners, New Canaan, Conn. CGP’s forecast is below consensus estimates calling for nearly 4% growth, as represented by the National Retail Federation’s 4.1% growth forecast.

Key CGP forecast findings include:

  • Apparel and accessories will be the strongest merchandise category, led by burgeoning performance wear growth, an on-fire footwear sector, and strong off-price retailer growth.
  • E-commerce will rise by 11%, a sharp deceleration from holiday 2011’s 17% growth.
  • Luxury retailers will see growth of only 7% this year, down from over 12% in 2011.
  • Two non-traditional retailers, Amazon and Apple, will enjoy the fastest growth among Top 10 retailers — but each well below last year’s breakneck pace.
  • Consumer electronics retailers — other than Apple — will see slightly negative growth.
  • Key factors depressing holiday sales include weak disposable income growth, stubborn unemployment woes, and savings rates no longer falling from recession era highs.
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