The National Retail Federation expects November-December 2013 sales to be up 3.9%, from the 2012 holiday season actual sales, to $602.1 billion.
The forecast for growth is better than the holiday season sales increase in 2012: 3.5%. It's also better than the 10-year average holiday sales growth: 3.3%.
"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," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.
Shay made his comments in the first week of October 2013, in the early days of the federal government shutdown. He added: "Our forecast is also somewhat hinging on Congress and the Administration's actions over the next 45 days; without action, we face the potential of losing the faith Americans have in their leaders, and the pursuant decrease in consumer confidence."
NRF's forecast said retailer optimism was buoyed by positive economic indicators, including housing growth and stronger consumer demand for larger-ticket purchases.
Major concerns remain, over the debt ceiling and government funding, income growth, and even foreign affairs policies; NRF said all these might impact holiday sales.
"The economy continues to expand, albeit at an unspectacular pace," said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. "In order for consumers to turn out this holiday season, we need to see steady improvements in income and job growth, as well as an agreement from Washington that puts the economic recovery first. Our forecast leaves room for improvement, while at the same time provides a very realistic look at the state of the American consumer and their confidence in our economy."
Shop.org forecasts 2013 online holiday sales (November and December sales) to be up 13-15% from holiday season 2012, which may put online sales as high as $82 billion.
U.S. Department of Commerce data showed fourth quarter 2012 (October-December) online sales were up 15.5% from the previous year.
"Online and mobile continue to be a leading area of growth for retailers. In this economy savvy, cost-conscious consumers go to the web to do their research and get the best bang for their buck," continued Shay.
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