Holiday sales forecast looks bright for retailers

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After a ho-hum 2009 and a disastrous 2008, holiday retail sales are expected to increase 2.3 percent this year to $447.1 billion, the National Retail Federation reports.

While that growth remains slightly lower than the 10-year average holiday sales increase of 2.5 percent, it would be a marked improvement from both last year’s 0.4 percent uptick and the dismal 3.9 percent holiday sales decline retailers experienced in 2008.

“While many consumers will be wishing for apparel and electronics this holiday season, retailers are hoping the holidays bring sustainable economic growth,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Though the retail industry is on stronger footing than last year, companies are closely watching key economic indicators like employment and consumer confidence before getting too optimistic that the recession is behind them.”

Retailers will be focusing on inventory control as one way to control prices and keep profits up.

“While consumers have shown they are once again willing to spend on what’s important to them, they will still be very conscientious about price,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz, Ph.D.  “Retailers are expected to compensate for this fundamental shift in shopper mentality by offering significant promotions throughout the holiday season and emphasizing value throughout their marketing efforts.”