Holiday retail sales will be moderated by political and fiscal uncertainty, but rise an estimated 4.1 percent to $586.1 billion this year -- higher than the 10-year average increase of 3.5 percent, according to the latest forecast.
"This is the most optimistic forecast NRF has released since the recession," Matthew Shay, CEO of the National Retail Federation, said in a statement. "In spite of the uncertainties that exist in our economy and among consumers, we believe we'll see solid holiday sales growth this year."
"Variables including an upcoming presidential election, confusion surrounding the 'fiscal cliff' and concern relating to future economic growth could all combine to affect consumers' spending plans, but overall we are optimistic that retailers' promotions will hit the right chord with holiday shoppers," Shay said.
Actual holiday sales climbed 5.6 percent last year after the Washington, D.C.-based trade group forecast a 3.8 percent rise to a record $469.1 billion.
The NRF bases its forecast on indicators including consumer confidence, consumer credit, disposable personal income and previous monthly retail sales releases. It now includes the non-store category of direct-to-consumer, kiosk and online sales.
Shop.org, the NRF's online arm, expects online sales to jump 12 percent from last year to $96 billion. It's the first holiday forecast by the organization.
"Online retail has been a bright spot for years, and we don't expect that trend to change anytime soon, especially with the growth in mobile," Shay said.
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