NRF forecasts U.S. holiday sales rise of 2.3 per cent

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After a ho-hum 2009 and a disastrous 2008, U.S. holiday retail sales are expected to increase a more moderate 2.3 per cent this year to $447.1 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. While that growth remains slightly lower than the ten-year average holiday sales increase of 2.5 per cent, it would be a marked improvement from both last year’s 0.4 per cent uptick and the dismal 3.9 per cent holiday sales decline retailers experienced in 2008.

“While many consumers will be wishing for apparel and electronics this holiday season, retailers are hoping the holidays bring sustainable economic growth,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Though the retail industry is on stronger footing than last year, companies are closely watching key economic indicators like employment and consumer confidence before getting too optimistic that the recession is behind them.”

Retailers are expected to focus on supply chain efficiencies and inventory control this holiday season to limit their exposure to excess merchandise and unplanned markdowns. Companies are also expected to leverage new channels – like mobile – to drive sales and provide added service to customers who want to shop anytime, anywhere.

“While consumers have shown they are once again willing to spend on what’s important to them, they will still be very conscientious about price,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz, Ph.D. “Retailers are expected to compensate for this fundamental shift in shopper mentality by offering significant promotions throughout the holiday season and emphasising value throughout their marketing efforts.”

NRF defines “holiday sales” as retail industry sales in the months of November and December. Retail industry sales include most traditional retail categories including discounters, department stores, grocery stores, and speciality stores, and exclude sales at automotive dealers, gas stations, and restaurants.

– IndiaRetailing Bureau

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