NRF Predicts Modest Holiday Sales Growth

Retail sales during the November/December holiday shopping season are expected to rise 3.7%, according to the National Retail Federation, which also expects online sales to see a high single digit increase.

NRF officials said the predicted increase, which if met would lead to total sales of $630.5 billion (exclusive of autos, gas and restaurants), would be higher than the 10 year average growth of 2.5%. Holiday sales in 2014 increased 4.1% over the previous year.

Holiday sales in 2015 are expected to represent approximately 19% of the retail industry’s annual sales of $3.2 trillion. Additionally, NRF is forecasting online sales to increase between 6% and 8% to as much as $105 billion.

Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO, said that while economic indicators have improved in several areas, American consumers remain torn between their desire to spend and their ability to spend.

“The fact remains consumers still have the weight of the economy on their minds, further explaining the complex retail spending environment we are seeing right now,” he said. “We expect families to spend prudently and deliberately, though still less constrained than what we saw even two years ago.”

Shay feels holiday sales could also be impacted by a possible government shutdown in mid-December and the slower pace of job creation.

“Price, value and even timing will all play a role in how, when, where and why people shop over the holiday season,” he said. “Retailers will be competitive not only on price, but on digital initiatives, store hours, product offerings and much more.”