NRF: Expect modest increase in holiday retail sales

Seasonal hiring is projected to rise as well

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation described the 2011 holiday season as "average," projecting that holiday sales will rise 2.8% to $465.6 billion.

While that growth is far lower than the 5.2% increase retailers experienced last year, it is slightly higher than the 10-year average holiday sales increase, according to Department of Commerce statistics.

“Retailers are optimistic that a combination of strong promotions and lean inventory levels will help them address consumer caution this holiday season,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “While businesses remain concerned over the viability of the economic recovery, there is no doubt that the retail industry is in a better position this year to handle consumer uncertainty than it was in 2008 and 2009.”

Additionally, NRF used its holiday forecasting model to create a projection for seasonal hiring in retail, forecasting that retailers are expected to hire between 480,000 and 500,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, up from about 495,000 seasonal employees hired last year.

NRF noted that it defines “holiday sales” as retail industry sales in the months of November and December.

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