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Holiday Retail Outlook Forecasts Marginal Gains

Written by Ken Gaebler
Published: 10/15/2013

National Retail Federation predicts this year's holiday sales will be higher than the 2012 holiday shopping season -- but not by much.

Retailers are already revving up for the busy, holiday shopping season. From now through the end of the year, many retailers are counting on sales totals that dwarf what they've seen so far this year.

2013 Holiday Season Retail Projections

Misjudging holiday retail sales is just one of many retail mistakes to avoid. But with the economy lumbering along at a slow and steady pace, a lot of retailers are wondering whether this year's holiday shopping season will generate the level of sales they need to hit their annual revenue marks. In a worst case scenario, a dismal holiday season could force retailers to re-evaluate their budgets and growth plans heading into the 2014 fiscal year.

Although it's still early, the National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts that sales during the months of November and December will increase 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion -- an increase over 2012's actual sales growth of 3.5 percent and more than a half point higher than 10-year holiday average of 3.3 percent growth.

"Our forecast is a realistic look at where we are right now in this economy -- balancing continued uncertainty in Washington and an economy that has been teetering on incremental growth for years," said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the NRF. "Overall, retailers are optimistic for the 2013 holiday season, hoping political debates over government spending and the debt ceiling do not erase any economic progress we've already made."

The NRF also expects that retailers will hire between 720,000 to 780,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, a figure that is in line with 2012 seasonal hiring of 720,500 -- a 13 percent year-over-year increase from 2011.

"Retailers will add hundreds of thousands of valuable jobs to the economy this holiday season, including extra staff for their distribution centers, store managers, e-commerce and mobile positions and helpful staff associates," added Shay. "Additionally, as we've heard from several companies, these holiday positions offer thousands of people the opportunity to turn seasonal employment into a long-term dynamic and thriving career opportunity."

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