Retail Groups Predict Slight Sales Growth for Holiday 2013 

The following article contains excerpts from press releases issued earlier this week by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

October 5, 2013 | The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and the National Retail Federation (NRF) have issued their sales projections for the holiday 2013 shopping season, anticipating modest increases of 3.4% (ICSC) and 3.9% (NRF) during the months of November and December.

Actual holiday sales were up 3.5% last year; the 10-year average holiday period growth is 3.3%.The NRF predicts that sales will surge to $602.1 billion in the remaining two months of 2013.

Solid gains for this year are linked to positive growth in the U.S. housing market and increased consumer appetite for purchasing larger-ticket items, according to the NRF. Holiday hiring is also closely correlated with spending; ICSC predicts that hiring will be up 0.5% over last year.

“We’re going to see a more subdued spending mood from consumers, but what counts is that we’re on track to have a better holiday sales season that last year,” said Michael P. Niemira, ICSC vice president of research and chief economist in a press release. “With leaner inventories, retailers can expect their prices and margins to remain stable, which is another good indicator of stronger sales.”

“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,” stated NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “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.”  

Shay added that the forecast is also “somewhat hinging on Congress and the Administration’s actions over the next 45 days; without action, we face the potential of losing the faith Americans have in their leaders, and the pursuant decrease in consumer confidence.”

Web sales will also continue to grow this year – the NRF’s projected growth over last year’s holiday shopping season hovers between 13-15%, reaching as much as $82 billion in online sales.  The Department of Commerce reported that Q4 2012 web sales grew by 15.5%.

According to the NRF, retailers rely on the holiday season for about 20-40% of their annual sales; the last couple of months of the year account for approximately 20% of total industry annual sales.