The National Retail Federation said that it expects holiday retail sales in November and December, excluding automobiles, gasoline and restaurants, to increase between 4.3% and 4.8% over 2017 for a total of $717.45 billion to $720.89 billion.
The forecast compares with an average annual increase of 3.9% over the past five years.
“Our forecast reflects the overall strength of the industry,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “Thanks to a healthy economy and strong consumer confidence, we believe that this holiday season will continue to reflect the growth we’ve seen over the past year. While there is concern about the impacts of an escalating trade war, we are optimistic that the pace of economic activity will continue to increase through the end of the year.”
Holiday sales in 2017 totaled $687.87 billion, a 5.3% increase over the year before and the largest increase since the 5.2% year-over-year gain seen in 2010 after the end of the recession.
“Last year’s strong results were thanks to growing wages, stronger employment and higher confidence, complemented by anticipation of tax cuts that led consumers to spend more than expected,” said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist. “With this year’s forecast, we continue to see strong momentum from consumers as they do the heavy lifting in supporting our economy. The combination of increased job creation, improved wages, tamed inflation and an increase in net worth all provide the capacity and the confidence to spend.”