The National Retail Federation’s monthly NRF Executive Opinion Survey indicates optimism among retailers for holiday sales, based on a Retail Sector Performance Index that posted a slightly above-normal reading for the second month in a row in October. The index, which measures retail executive evaluations of monthly sales, customer traffic, average per-customer transaction, employment, inventories, and six-month sales outlook, is measured on a scale of 0.0–100.0, where 50.0 equals normal. October’s index was 54.6%, compared to September’s 56%.
Improved sales played a large part to push the October index number higher, with the first above-average reading in that category since July. Pricing power rose 10.9 points in October over September. Retail executives’ optimism for the upcoming holiday season was tempered by the demand outlook, however. The six-month retail outlook dropped 12.7 points in October to 52.3, an indicator of possible slower sales in 2005.