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Still evaluating Sandy's impact on retail, NRF sticking to holiday forecast - for now

Washington D.C. - It is still too soon to tell what kind of impact Hurricane Sandy has had - and could continue to have - on retail sales into the holiday season, which is why the National Retail Federation is adhering to its original holiday forecast for the all-important selling season.

That is, at least for now.

As Kathy Grannis, NRF spokeswoman told HTT, "Once the dust settles, we know retailers will do a full assessment of their damage. But right now we have nothing scientific to go by, only anecdotal information. It remains to be seen whether or not [the hurricane] will play a role in retailers holiday sales."

For that reason, she continued, "As far as the holidays and November sales go, right now we are not planning on revising our forecast."

The NRF 2012 holiday forecast calls for a 4.1% increase in sales over last year, representing "the most optimistic forecast we're put out since 2007 when the recession got started," she noted.

But Grannis reminded that this forecast "came out weeks ago, so come December, when we get better grasp on how November sales ended up, we'll see then if we need to revise our forecast or not."

Grannis said that consumers affected by the hurricane, which tore in the Northeast region earlier this week, will likely continue to spend - only, they'll shift their dollars in the short term on items they need to make repairs to their homes rather than early holiday-related purchases of gifts and seasonal decor.

To date, NRF has not heard of any larger retailers reporting any major damage; rather, the organization expects the hardest hit segment will likely be the smaller stores and mom-and-pop shops in the affected area.

"There could be a pinch on sales, but that pinch might come more from smaller retailers. The larger guys with chains across country will look for ways to make up lost sales," she summed. "In the meantime, we're monitoring and measuring and talking to our members to make sure we fully understand the total impact."