The National Retail Federation has revised its holiday forecast upward, expecting holiday sales to rise 3.8 percent this year to a record $469.1 billion. NRF’s initial forecast, announced on Oct. 6, called for anticipated sales growth of 2.8 percent. While a 3.8 percent sales increase is considerably above the ten-year average sales increase of 2.6 percent, it is still lower than the 5.2 percent increase the retail industry saw last year.
“After strong sales reports in October and November, along with a successful Black Friday weekend, retailers are cautiously optimistic that this season will turn out better than initially expected, bringing added stability to our recovering economy at a time when America needs it most,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “However, a number of factors, including the debt crisis in Europe and continued political wrangling in Washington, could impact consumer spending this holiday season and into 2012.”
The forecast revision comes on the heels of two promising pieces of news. NRF announced last week that retail industry sales for November rose 4.5 percent year-over-year. In addition, NRF’s most recent holiday survey found that the average American has completed far less of their holiday shopping than in previous years – an indication that many shoppers bought for themselves in November and have plenty of holiday shopping left to do.
“Consumer spending this holiday season has surpassed expectations, though many shoppers continue to stick to their budgets and buy only what they need,” noted NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz.