The National Retail Federation (NRF) projects a 5.7% increase in holiday sales this year, with U.S. consumers spending $217.4 billion. “It seems clear that the economy is picking up momentum just in time for the holidays,” said NRF chief economist Rosalind Wellst. “Retail sales gains for the 2003 holiday season will be far better than the meager increases retailers experienced a year ago.” Holiday sales in 2002 increased just 2.2%, to $205.6 billion.
Wells says the big gain will result from low interest rates, low inflation, rising equity markets, and mounting consumer confidence. The NRF also believes that consumers have more disposable income resulting from the withholding-tax cut and child tax credit checks.