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NRF, Shop.org Expect Solid Growth This Holiday Season

For Immediate Release
Kathy Grannis (202) 783-7971 or grannisk@nrf.com
www.nrf.com/holidays

Explore NRF's 2012 Holiday Survival Kit
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NRF, Shop.org Expect Solid Growth This Holiday Season
-Retailers Will Hire Estimated 585,000 to 625,000 Seasonal Employees This Year-

Washington, October 2, 2012 – Tempered by political and fiscal uncertainties but supported by signs of improvement in consumer confidence, holiday sales this year will increase 4.1 percent to $586.1 billion.*  NRF’s 2012 holiday forecast is higher than the 10-year average holiday sales increase of 3.5 percent. Actual holiday sales in 2011 grew 5.6 percent.**  

“This is the most optimistic forecast NRF has released since the recession. In spite of the uncertainties that exist in our economy and among consumers, we believe we’ll see solid holiday sales growth this year,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Variables including an upcoming presidential election, confusion surrounding the ‘fiscal cliff’ and concern relating to future economic growth could all combine to affect consumers’ spending plans, but overall we are optimistic that retailers promotions will hit the right chord with holiday shoppers.”

Recent government data released shows a crosscurrent of indicators that could impact holiday sales, including unimpressive job and income growth and an unemployment rate stuck at eight percent.  However, positive indicators are emerging that show a cautious but capable consumer, such as increases in confidence and home prices.

“While moderate compared to what we experienced the last two holiday seasons, the forecast is a very pragmatic look at what to expect this year given the current rate of economic growth,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz, Ph.D.  “There’s still some general anxiety amongst consumers when it comes to how the state of the economy is impacting their spending plans, but retailers can expect to see excitement around their promotions and plenty of bargain hunters both online and in stores in the coming months.”

NRF’s holiday sales forecast is based on an economic model using several indicators including consumer confidence, consumer credit, disposable personal income, and previous monthly retail sales releases. It now includes the non-store category (direct-to-consumer, kiosks and online sales.) For historic sales information visit NRF’s Holiday Headquarters.

Shop.org Forecasts Online Holiday Sales to Grow 12% Over Last Holiday Season 

Shop.org for the first time in its history today released its 2012 online holiday sales forecast, expecting sales to grow 12 percent over last holiday season to as much as $96 billion.*** The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates total 2011 4th Quarter e-commerce sales increased 15 percent. Shop.org defines the holiday season as sales in the months of November and December.

“Online retail has been a bright spot for years and we don’t expect that trend to change anytime soon, especially with the growth in mobile,” stated Shay. “Aside from the convenience, shoppers look to the holiday season to take advantage of retailers’ increased digital offerings. In addition to enhancing the site experience, retailers have spent the year investing in optimizing their mobile and social platforms, just what holiday shoppers are looking for.”

NRF Forecasts Seasonal Employment to Grow Between 585,000 and 625,000

According to NRF, retailers are expected to hire between 585,000 and 625,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, which is comparable to the 607,500 seasonal employees they hired last year.

“The retail industry creates hundreds of thousands of jobs every holiday season by adding new staff in stores, distribution centers, and customer service departments across the country. In addition to the newly created jobs, many retailers also offer existing staff the opportunity to work longer hours if they want,” said Shay. “New jobs help people support their families, and for some, seasonal employment can turn into a career opportunity once the holidays have passed.”


As the world’s largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF’s global membership includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution as well as chain restaurants and industry partners from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. In the United States, NRF represents an industry that includes more than 3.6 million establishments and which directly and indirectly accounts for 42 million jobs – one in four U.S. jobs. The total U.S. GDP impact of retail is $2.5 trillion annually, and retail is a daily barometer of the health of the nation’s economy. www.nrf.com.

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* NRF defines “holiday sales” as retail industry sales in the months of November and December. Retail industry sales include most traditional retail categories including non-store, auto parts and accessories stores, discounters, department stores, grocery stores, and specialty stores, and exclude sales at automotive dealers, gas stations, and restaurants.

** Holiday retail sales for the past several years have been updated based on revisions from the U.S. Department of Commerce, and NRF most recently revised how it calculates retail sales to now include non-store and auto parts and auto accessories stores. 

*** Shop.org’s estimates are based on data collected by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Federal Reserve, U.S. Census, The Conference Board, and NRF calculations. These include personal income and spending, consumer credit, consumer confidence, and previous monthly retail reports.