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Holiday Sales To Grow 4-4.5%: Deloitte

New York — Total holiday sales will grow between 4 percent and 4.5 percent, to upward of $967 billion, according to a new forecast by Deloitte.

The projected gains will be spurred by rising home prices and steady job creation, and are on par with last year’s 4.5 percent increase, the consultancy said.

Direct sales, including the online, catalog and interactive TV channels, are expected to increase upwards of 13 percent, while 8 percent of brick-and-mortar sales, or $66 billion, will be influenced by research on mobile devices, Deloitte projected.

“Shoppers researching their purchases electronically via their PC, tablet or mobile phone are increasingly influencing in-store sales, particularly as we see greater integration across retailers’ store, online and mobile channels,” said  Deloitte vice chairman Alison Paul.

While the store remains a core element of holiday shopping, she noted that more retailers are offering such in-store services as on-the-spot price matching, pick up of online purchases, and pulling inventory from other locations. “Retailers leading the way this season will be those that effectively bring together their pricing, promotions, merchandise and inventory management across both their physical and digital storefronts,” she said.

And contrary to concerns that showrooming will negatively affect sales, “Consumers using their smartphones are more likely to make a purchase compared with other shoppers in the store,” Paul argued, “indicating that these activities are contributing to sales and keeping a shopper from turning to a competitor.”

The forecast covers the months of November through January and excludes sales of cars and gasoline.

In other news, Walmart said it will hire 55,000 seasonal store employees for the holidays, up 10 percent from last year, while Target plans to bring in 70,000 temporary workers, or 20 percent fewer than last year. The No. 2 discount chain attributed the decrease to more efficient labor deployment.