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Holiday Sales To Grow Over 2012, Forecasts Agree

NEW YORK — Recently released retail forecasts are predicting improved holiday sales over last year.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) reports total retail sales for the November through December holiday sales period are expected to increase by 4 percent over last year, reaching $738 billion in total revenue.

According to CEA’s “2013 Holiday Retail Sales Forecast” report, strong online channel sales will drive overall holiday retail sales growth this season. Online sales are expected to hit a new sales record, growing 18.7 percent to reach $57 billion. Mobile purchases, expected to surpass $8 billion for the first time, will grow by 35 percent and account for nearly 15 percent of all online holiday purchases.

CEA expects overall retail sales during the 2013 holiday season to be roughly on par with 2012 holiday sales. Last year, consumers spent $709 billion at retail during the holiday season, according to CEA. CEA forecasts subpar growth of just 2.7 percent for general merchandise, apparel and accessories, furniture and other sales during the 2013 holiday season.

“Overall retail holiday sales growth looks healthy for 2013,” said DuBravac. “However, significant economic risks remain unresolved, and these could still negatively impact how much consumers decide to spend this holiday season.”

The National Retail Federation (NRF) agrres with CEA, projecting retail sales in November and December to increase 3.9 percent, but putting total sales at $602.1 billion.

The NRF said the 3.9 percent gain will exceed last year’s 3.5 percent increase and the 10-year holiday sales growth average of 3.3 percent.

Fueling sales growth next month and in December is a projected 13 percent to 15 percent increase in online sales, to as much as $82 billion, according to NRF’s e-commerce wing,

Holiday sales are seen rising 3.4 percent year over year by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), a trade group that said its November to December forecast is up slightly from the 2012 holiday season, even though retailers are anticipating more modest sales.

But despite retailer’s mixed outlook, and the economy’s “mini-cycle slowdown” over the last three quarters, this year’s holiday sales environment is looking up, ICSC said.

“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 Niemira, the group’s research VP and chief economist.

Along with reduced price discounting, ICSC is projecting a 13 percent increase in online and other direct sales this holiday season.

Additionally, holiday hiring, which is highly correlated with holiday spending and can also forecast a stronger sales performance, is set to grow 0.5 percent from last year, ICSC said.

Earlier this month, ShopperTrak projected a 2 percent increase in holiday sales for November and December, while Deloitte forecasted a gain of as much as 4.5 percent for the November to January period.

The Deloitte forecast sees holiday sales reaching upward of $967 billion.

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.

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.