WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Retail Federation expects sales in the months of November and December to increase 3.9% to $602.1 billion, up slightly from last year’s actual 3.5% holiday season sales growth. The forecast is higher than the 10-year average holiday sales growth of 3.3%.
“Our forecast is a realistic look at where we are right now in this economy, balancing continued uncertainty in Washington and an economy that has been teetering on incremental growth for years,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “Overall, retailers are optimistic for the 2013 holiday season, hoping political debates over government spending and the debt ceiling do not erase any economic progress we’ve already made.”
The NRF said that economic variables including positive growth in the U.S. housing market and increased consumer appetite to buy larger-ticket items give retailers reason to be cautiously optimistic for solid holiday season gains. However, much remains up in the air, including fiscal concerns around the debt ceiling and government funding, and income growth, as well as policies and actions surrounding foreign affairs, all of which could impact holiday sales. According to NRF, the holiday season can account for anywhere from 20% to 40% of a retailer’s annual sales, and accounts for approximately 20% of total industry annual sales.
In addition, NRF expects retailers to hire between 720,000 and 780,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, in line with the actual 720,500 they hired in 2012, which was a 13% year-over-year increase from 2011.
“Retailers will add hundreds of thousands of valuable jobs to the economy this holiday season, including extra staff for their distribution centers, store managers, e-commerce and mobile positions and helpful staff associates,” said Shay. “Teenagers, college students and adults love working in retail during the holidays, especially with the perks of employee discounts and being the first to see what’s added to store shelves. Additionally, as we’ve heard from several companies, these holiday positions offer thousands of people the opportunity to turn seasonal employment into a long-term dynamic and thriving career opportunity.”