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NRF Forecasts Marginal Sales Gains This Holiday Season

For Immediate Release
Bethany Aronhalt or Kathy Grannis (855) NRF-PRESS
aronhaltb@nrf.com or grannisk@nrf.com

Audio of Holiday Forecast Media Briefing
with NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay


www.nrf.com/holidays

NRF Forecasts Marginal Sales Gains This Holiday Season 

Washington, October 3, 2013 – NRF expects sales in the months of November and December to marginally increase 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion, over 2012’s actual 3.5 percent holiday season sales growth. The forecast is higher than the 10-year average holiday sales growth of 3.3 percent. 

“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.”  

On the recent government shutdown and NRF’s holiday outlook, “Our forecast is also somewhat hinging on Congress and the Administration’s actions over the next 45 days; without action, we face the potential of losing the faith Americans have in their leaders, and the pursuant decrease in consumer confidence.”

Economic variables including positive growth in the U.S. housing marketing and the 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, income growth and even policies and actions surrounding foreign affairs, all of which could impact holiday sales. According to NRF, the holiday season can account for anywhere from 20-40 percent of a retailer’s annual sales, and accounts for approximately 20 percent of total industry annual sales.  

“The economy continues to expand, albeit at an unspectacular pace,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “In order for consumers to turn out this holiday season, we need to see steady improvements in income and job growth, as well as an agreement from Washington that puts the economic recovery first. Our forecast leaves room for improvement, while at the same time provides a very realistic look at the state of the American consumer and their confidence in our economy.”

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 includes the non-store category (direct-to-consumer, kiosks and online sales.) For historic sales information visit NRF’s Holiday Headquarters and the Retail Insight Center.

Shop.org Forecasts Online Sales to Grow Between 13-15% This Holiday Season

Shop.org today released its 2013 online holiday sales forecast, expecting sales in November and December to grow between 13-15 percent over last holiday season to as much as $82 billion.**  

Shop.org calculates sales based on government data including consumer confidence, consumer credit, disposable personal income, and previous monthly retail sales releases. The U.S. Department of Commerce announced that final Q4 2012 (October – December) e-commerce sales increased 15.5 percent. 

“Online and mobile continue to be a leading area of growth for retailers. In this economy savvy, cost-conscious consumers go to the web to do their research and get the best bang for their buck,” continued Shay. “In addition to researching what their peers are saying online about products and gifts this holiday season, consumers will use the buy online pick-up in store option, retailers’ apps and mobile websites to find something special for their loved ones.” 

-NRF Forecasts Seasonal Employment to Grow Between 720,000 and 780,00

According to NRF, retailers are expected 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 percent 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.”

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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.

** Shop.org measures electronic sales as a component of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s “non-store” category, which includes sales from kiosks, direct to consumer and mobile.

As the world’s largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF represents retailers of all types and sizes, including chain restaurants and industry partners, from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. Retailers operate more than 3.6 million U.S. establishments that support one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.5 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF’s This is Retail campaign highlights the industry’s opportunities for life-long careers, how retailers strengthen communities, and the critical role that retail plays in driving innovation. www.nrf.com.