NRF: Retailers Will Get Holiday Wish With Projected 2.3% Sales Boost

WASHINGTON - Retailers asking Santa for a better holiday selling season than the past two years just might get it, the National Retail Federation said.
     "After a ho-hum 2009 and a disastrous 2008," holiday retail sales in November and December are expected to increase, albeit moderately, by 2.3% to $447.1 billion this year.
     While that growth remains slightly lower than the 10-year average holiday sales increase of 2.5%, "it would be a marked improvement from both last year's 0.4% uptick and the dismal 3.9% decline in holiday sales that retailers experienced in 2008," the NRF noted.
     1NRF president and ceo Matthew Shay said retailers are hoping for sustainable economic growth this holiday.
     "Though the retail industry is on stronger footing than last year, companies are closely watching key economic indicators like employment and consumer confidence before getting too optimistic that the recession is behind them," he said.
     In line with their practices in recent years amid the recession, retailers are expected to focus on supply chain efficiencies and inventory control to limit overstocks and unplanned markdowns, the NRF explained. They are also expected to tap new channels - like mobile - to drive sales and service customers who want to shop anytime and anywhere.
     Price will again be top of mind for consumers.
     "While consumers have shown they are once again willing to spend on what's important to them, they will still be very conscientious about price," said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. "Retailers are expected to compensate for this fundamental shift in shopper mentality by offering significant promotions throughout the holiday season and emphasizing value throughout their marketing efforts."

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