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NRF Foresees Challenging Holiday Season, Forecasts Meager Sales Gains of 2.2 Percent

For Immediate Release
Contact: Kathy Grannis (202) 626-8189 or grannisk@nrf.com
Holiday Headquarters: www.nrf.com/holidayhq

NRF Foresees Challenging Holiday Season, Forecasts Meager Sales Gains of 2.2 Percent

Washington, September 23, 2008 -- The National Retail Federation today released its forecast for the upcoming 2008 holiday season, projecting that sales will rise 2.2 percent this year to $470.4 billion.* This gain would fall well below the ten-year average of 4.4 percent holiday sales growth and would represent the slowest growth since 2002, when holiday sales rose 1.3 percent.

“Current financial pressures and a lack of confidence in the economy will force shoppers to be very conservative with their holiday spending,” said NRF Chief Economist Rosalind Wells. “We expect consumers to be frugal this season and less willing to splurge on discretionary items.”

A number of economic indicators point to a challenging holiday for retailers. A struggling housing market and rising unemployment accompanied by meager income gains will continue to hamper the consumer throughout the season. Food and energy costs will remain high. With the current financial industry crisis continuing to chip away at consumer confidence, NRF does not foresee an economic turnaround until the second half of next year.

The National Retail Federation is the world's largest retail trade association, with membership that comprises all retail formats and channels of distribution including department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, chain restaurants, drug stores and grocery stores as well as the industry's key trading partners of retail goods and services. NRF represents an industry with more than 1.6 million U.S. retail companies, more than 25 million employees - about one in five American workers - and 2007 sales of $4.5 trillion. As the industry umbrella group, NRF also represents over 100 state, national and international retail associations. 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 discounters, department stores, grocery stores, and specialty stores, and exclude sales at automotive dealers, gas stations, and restaurants.