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ICSC forecasts back-to-school sales up 3%

New York City -- The International Council of Shopping Centers is forecasting an increase of 3% to $39 billion in total sales over the three-month back-to-school shopping season.

According to ICSC on Thursday, sales for the back-to-school season -- typically the second-largest driver of the year -- are predicted to be healthy.

“The 2011 retail environment is a bit different from 2010 and while we expect this year to be slightly more moderate than last, the overall message from this projection is that sales are still likely to be quite healthy,” said Michael P. Niemira, chief economist and director of research for ICSC. “While there have been some marginal improvements in both consumer confidence and the unemployment rate, compared to the lead-in to the 2010 back-to-school season, the rise in cotton prices has lead to increased prices on apparel, a key category in back-to-school spending.”

The Commerce Department has segmented retail back-to-school sales categories as family clothing, shoes, electronics and books. According to ICSC’s forecast, in 2011 family clothing and shoes will be the strongest performing segments, posting 3.5% gains, while books will be the weakest segment with a 1.5% increase.

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