NRF ups holiday forecast to 3.3% as seasonal sales keep ringing

Retail Editor 4, December 14, 2010

Washington D.C. - The solid start to this holiday selling season has compelled the National Retail Federation to raise its forecast to a 3.3% year-over-year sales gain from its original 2.3% projection for the season's sales increases over November and December.

NRF explained this shift comes as a result of the "improvement in a variety of economic indicators, including stock market gains, recent income growth and savings built up during the recession - all giving consumers the capacity to spend."

The association said November retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 0.8% seasonally adjusted over October and 6.8% unadjusted over last year.

Matthew Shay, NRF president and ceo, said this holiday season has "surpassed all expectations. While employment data is still a concern, we are starting to see improvement in other economic indicators that support an increase to our forecast. In order to sustain this momentum for retailers and the U.S. economy, there must be a renewed focus on jobs as we enter the new year."

Similar to NRF's findings, November retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased 0.8% seasonally adjusted over October and 9.2% unadjusted year-over-year.

"Consumers have not been suffering from a lack of spending power, they've just been missing the confidence to use it," added Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist. "With noticeable improvement in key economic indicators combined with great deals on merchandise, consumers have certainly shown they shouldn't be counted out this holiday season."

Solid gains across the board indicate some pent up demand as consumers stocked up on items such as apparel, accessories, and books and music. Sales at clothing and clothing accessory stores increased 2.7% seasonally adjusted over last month and a strong 9.6% unadjusted year-over-year. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores sales increased 2.3% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 15.5% unadjusted year-over-year.
Health and personal care stores sales increased 0.9 seasonally adjusted over last October and 7.3% unadjusted over last year. General merchandise stores sales increased 1.3% seasonally adjusted over last month and 4.2% unadjusted year-over-year.


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