Retail sales expected to be vibrant this year

What's Going On

With the big shopping season just getting started, one of the most closely watched forecasts for holiday sales is predicting a merry time ahead for traditional retailers — and an even merrier one for online sellers.

The National Retail Federation predicted Tuesday that sales will tick up 3.6% overall in November and December to $655.8 billion. That would make it far better than the 2.5% average growth over the 10-year period, or even the 3.4% average in the last seven years as the nation emerged from recession. The forecast focuses on retail sales, excluding spending on cars, gasoline and restaurants.

The bigger gainers would be online sellers. Non-store sales are going to increase from 7% to 10%, the NRF forecasts, to $117 billion.

“All of the fundamentals are in a good place, giving strength to consumers and leading us to believe that this will be a very positive holiday season,” NRF CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “Our forecast reflects the very realistic steady momentum of the economy and industry expectations.”

Other shopping outlooks are also rosy, predicting double-digit online sales growth.

In August, Kantar Retail predicted a holiday-season uptick of 3.8%, up from 3.4% last year, using the same basis as the NRF. Of that, conventional stores would see a 2% gain while online retailers will see a 16% increase, the most since 2011. A big factor in the jump is that lower food and gasoline prices will put more cash in shoppers’ pockets.





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