Retailers are in store for a strong holiday season if the National Retail Federation (NRF) is any guide. The NRF is forecasting that sales will rise between 4.3% and 4.8% this year to a range of $717.45 billion to $720.89 billion.
The average annual increase over the past five years is 3.9%. Sales rose 5.3% year over year last year to $687.87 billion, according to the NRF. The total does not include sales of automobiles, gasoline or restaurant meals. The 2017 seasonal sales increase was the largest since a 6.2% rise in 2005.
NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay commented:
Our forecast reflects the overall strength of the industry. Thanks to a healthy economy and strong consumer confidence, we believe that this holiday season will continue to reflect the growth we’ve seen over the past year. While there is concern about the impacts of an escalating trade war, we are optimistic that the pace of economic activity will continue to increase through the end of the year.
Jack Kleinhenz, the NRF’s chief economist added:
Last year’s strong results were thanks to growing wages, stronger employment and higher confidence, complemented by anticipation of tax cuts that led consumers to spend more than expected. With this year’s forecast, we continue to see strong momentum from consumers as they do the heavy lifting in supporting our economy. The combination of increased job creation, improved wages, tamed inflation and an increase in net worth all provide the capacity and the confidence to spend.
The NRF forecast is consistent with its full-year forecast for sales growth of 4.5% compared with 2017.
Retailers expected to see the greatest portion of their business during the holiday season are hobby, toy and game stores (30.1% of annual total, or $5.6 billion of $18.7 billion annual sales); jewelry stores (28.1%, or $9.1 billion of $32.4 billion); and department stores, excluding discount stores (26.9%, or $14.6 billion of $54.1 billion).