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Holiday Selling Season Looking Bright

Retail analysts are projecting that holiday sales will grow between 4.5 percent and 6.5 percent this year over last.

The more conservative estimate comes from the National Retail Federation (NRF), which cited a tough year-ago comparison of 5.1 percent growth, plus consumer concerns over higher energy costs, rising interest rates, geopolitical threats and slow income growth. Nevertheless, total holiday spending should hit $220 billion, NRF said, led by consumer electronics, home-related merchandise and apparel.

More optimistic is Retail Forward, the Columbus, Ohio-based retail consultancy, which foresees holiday sales growth of between 6 percent and 6.5 percent year-over-year, the best performance since 1999. Fueling the gains will be lean inventories, firm prices and a 26-percent spike in online spending to $22 billion. The group added that the CE and majap store channel in particular “should be strong this year, but below last year’s level.”