The National Retail Federation anticipates a decent holiday season this year, projecting a 4.5% overall retail sales gain and overall holiday spending of $219.9 billion for the November-December period. Although last year’s retail sales gains of 5.1% were higher, the NRF points out that the increase was easier to achieve since the holiday 2002 season was relatively flat-up only 1.2% over 2001.
“Although consumer spending has been inconsistent in recent months, we expect the holiday season to bring more stability to the industry,” said NRF chief economist Rosalind Wells in a statement. She predicts that home-related merchandise and consumer electronics will do best, while trendy fashions will “help spark clothing sales.”
Wells said that the economic factors of greatest concerns to consumers this holiday will be higher energy costs, rising interest rates, geopolitical threats, and slow income growth. But as NRF president/CEO Tracy Mullin contends, consumers will still set aside money “for what is most important to them.”