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NRF: Holiday sales to rise 4%

BY Dan Berthiaume

Washington, D.C. – The National Retail Federation (NRF) expects sales in November and December (excluding autos, gas and restaurant sales) to increase a healthy 4% to $616.9 billion, higher than 2013’s actual 3% increase during that same time frame. This would mark the first time since 2011 that holiday sales would increase more than 4%.

NRF’s holiday sales forecast is based on an economic model using several indicators including, consumer credit, disposable personal income, and previous monthly retail sales releases. It now includes the non-store category, direct-to-consumer, kiosks and online sales.

While consumer confidence has been unstable much of the year, improvements over the past few months in key economic indicators will give way to increased spending power among holiday shoppers, according to the NRF. Retail sales, jobs and housing data all point to healthy gains.

“Though we have only seen consumer income and spending moderately – and erratically – accelerate this year, we believe there is still room for optimism this holiday season,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “In the grand scheme of things, consumers are in a much better place than they were this time last year, and the extra spending power could very well translate into solid holiday sales growth for retailers; however, shoppers will still be deliberate with their purchases, while hunting for hard-to-pass-up bargains.”

In addition, Shop.org expects online holiday sales in November and December to grow 8 to 11% from the prior year holiday season to as much as $105 billion. Holiday non-store sales in 2013 grew 9%.

Also, according to NRF, retailers are expected to hire between 725,000 and 800,000 seasonal workers in the 2014 holiday season, potentially more than they actually hired during the 2013 holiday season (768,000). Seasonal employment in 2013 increased 14% from the previous holiday season.

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