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NRF predicts 4% holiday sales increase

Washington, D.C. – The National Retail Federation (NRF) expects holiday sales to increase 3.9% to $602.1 billion, up slightly from last year’s 3.5% increase. The forecast is higher than the 10-year average holiday sales growth of 3.3%.

The group noted, however, that its forecast hinges “on Congress and the Administration's actions" over the next 45 days as the government shutdown entered a third day

“Our forecast is a realistic look at where we are right now in this economy, balancing continued uncertainty in Washington and an economy that has been teetering on incremental growth for years,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “Overall, retailers are optimistic for the 2013 holiday season, hoping political debates over government spending and the debt ceiling do not erase any economic progress we’ve already made.”

The NRF says that economic variables including positive growth in the U.S. housing market and increased consumer appetite to buy larger-ticket items give retailers reason to be cautiously optimistic for solid holiday season gains.

However, much remains up in the air, including fiscal concerns around the debt ceiling and government funding, and income growth, as well as policies and actions surrounding foreign affairs, all of which could impact holiday sales. According to NRF, the holiday season can account for anywhere from 20%-40% of a retailer’s annual sales, and accounts for approximately 20% of total industry annual sales.

In addition, NRF expects retailers to hire between 720,000 and 780,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, in line with the actual 720,500 they hired in 2012, which was a 13% year-over-year increase from 2011.

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