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NRF expects 1% drop in holiday sales

Washington – The National Retail Federation today projected that 2009 holiday sales will decline by 1% to $437.6 billion. NRF defines holiday sales as the aggregate retail sales for November and December.

While not an encouraging forecast, NRF noted a 1% drop would be an improvement over last year’s holiday sales decline of 3.4%; it would also outpace the 3.0% decline the association expects for full-year 2009.

"It could be worse, and it has been worse," said Ellen Davis, vice president, during a conference call early this afternoon. She described the forecast not as pessimistic but "realitic," adding that if sales trends show strong signs of improvement this month NRF would reconsider its projection.

Factors influencing the forecast included consumer concerns about the job market and housing values as well as deflation in categories like apparel and electronics as retailers take an aggressively promotional posture.

“The expectation of another challenging holiday season does not come as news to retailers, who have been experiencing a pullback in consumer spending for over a year,” said NRF president and ceo Tracy Mullin. 

Davis noted consumer savings rates are at the highest in a decade and predicted the use of debit cards and cash will continue to trend up.

 

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