NRF: Holiday sales to increase 3.6% to 4%

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NRF: Holiday sales to increase 3.6% to 4%

By Marianne Wilson - 10/03/2017
One of the most closely watched holiday forecasts has good news for retailers.

The National Retail Federation said it expects holiday retail sales in November and December to increase between 3.6% and 4% for a total of $678.75 billion to $682 billion. In 2016, up from $655.8 billion last year. The NRF forecast, which excludes automobiles, gasoline and restaurants, would meet or exceed last year’s growth of 3.6% and the five-year average of 3.5%.

The calendar is expected to give retailers a holiday boost. Christmas falls 32 days after Thanksgiving this year, one day more than last year. The holiday is also on a Monday (as opposed to Sunday last year), giving consumers an extra weekend day for shopping.

“Consumers continue to do the heavy lifting in supporting our economy, and all the fundamentals are aligned for them to continue doing so during the holidays,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. "the combination of job creation, improved wages, tame inflation and an increase in net worth all provide the capacity and the confidence to spend.”

NRF’s forecast follows holiday estimates from Deloitte and AlixPartners, which estimate holiday season sales growth between 3.8% and 4.5%, fueled by higher online spending and a tightening job market.

With retail employment already up recently, retailers are seeing less of a need to hire seasonal workers for the holidays this year, according to the NRF. It expects retailers to hire between 500,000 and 550,000 temporary workers this holiday season, down from last year’s 575,000.