New York City -- Shopping-center sales in November and December are expected to increase 2.2% relative to the same period a year ago, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. In 2010, the holiday season posted a 5% gain following two back-to-back declines during the 2007-09 recession.
The organization has forecast that U.S. holiday sales in 2011 will post a moderate 3% gain, down from 2.1% last year.
More broadly, the three common measures of holiday sales — shopping-center sales, ICSC’s composite of major chains and “GAFO-store” sales — all are expected to increase in 2011 by a slower pace of between 0.3 and 2.8% points, depending on the metric, compared with last year’s holiday performance.
“Although there are many statistics and surveys that convey the magnitude of holiday sales, the qualitative themes are more important than a ‘point estimate’ based on any specific metric,” noted Michael P. Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist and VP for research.
The important themes of the ICSC holiday 2011 sales forecast include the following:
- No matter which metric of performance is used, ICSC projects 2011 U.S. holiday sales are likely to advance at a slower pace than in 2010 as strong economic headwinds continue to persist.
- The 2011 holiday season forecast also envisions a pace of sales considerably slower than during the first half of 2011 since retail sales generally advanced at a faster pace in early 2011 than during the 2010 holiday season.
- Compared with the previous 10-year sales performance, 2011 is likely to be near-to-above average depending on the sales metric.
- The economic and political risks are expected to be higher during the upcoming season than during 2010.
On balance, ICSC’s 2011 holiday sales forecast portrays a moderately healthy performance, Niemira added.