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Holiday forecast: Cold temps, hot sales

BY Gina Acosta

Favorable weather, an extra shopping day and new tech gadgets should attract more shoppers this holiday season, according to a new report.

The U.S. Holiday 2015 Forecast from the FBIC Group says retailers should expect a happy holiday 2015 selling season, with combined spending in November and December to rise between 3% and 4% over 2014 levels to between $626 billion to $633 billion.

"Although the growth rate may be slightly lower than the 4 percent recorded in 2014, it is still within range of holiday spending growth rates recorded each year since 2012," predicts Deborah Weinswig, executive director, head of global retail and technology for FBIC.

Weather forecasting firm Planalytics predicts that December temperatures nationwide will be 2% lower than in 2014, with 4% less rainfall throughout the country, a perfect non-storm for holiday shopping. But precipitation could have a positive effect in some regions.

"The colder temperatures should drive demand for winter apparel and consumables," Weinswig says. "[And] higher snowfall in the mid-South and Southwest regions could drive need-based purchases of winter items."

The calendar also is cooperating with retailers, with Christmas falling on a Friday and one more shopping day in the season (29) than in 2014. Hanukah, which this year runs from Monday, Dec. 7 through Monday, Dec. 14, also will add to the post-Thanksgiving rush, Weinswig says.

FBIC predicts technology will be a significant gift this year, including the iPhone 6s, updated versions of Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV, Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 tablet, fitness bands and accessories, Bluetooth speakers and drones. Popular toys will include Barbie Dreamhouse, Star Wars merchandise, and Sesame Street Play All Day Elmo.

The percentage of sales over the Internet will continue to grow, according to FBIC. Mobile commerce continues to gain share within e-commerce, the report adds, accounting for 16% of digital commerce in the second quarter, twice the share two years ago.

FBIC will continue to report on holiday sales trends throughout the season.

The full report can be found here.

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