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Promising Projections For Holiday Retail Season

Customers might be split on the issue of Christmas creep, but with the latest news from the National Retail Federation in mind, retailers probably can’t wait for the holiday shopping season to arrive.

The NRF announced Thursday (Oct. 8) that it predicts retail sales to increase a modest 3.7 percent to a total of $630.5 billion through November and December. As the 10-year average sits at just 2.5 percent, NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay explained that the numbers represent a re-entry of the skittish American consumer back into the market.

“With several months of solid retail sales behind us, we’re heading into the all-important holiday season fully expecting to see healthy growth,” Shay said. “However, while economic indicators have improved in several areas, Americans remain somewhat torn between their desire and their ability to spend; the fact remains, consumers still have the weight of the economy on their minds, further explaining the complex retail spending environment we are seeing right now. We expect families to spend prudently and deliberately, though still less constrained than what we saw even two years ago.”

The automobile, gas and restaurant industries were excluded from the NRF’s estimates, but the organization did focus on online sales, estimating a possible 6 to 8 percent increase, reaching a maximum of $105 billion. In 2014, online purchases grew just 5.8 percent.

Overall, the $630.5 billion in sales estimates account for 20 percent of all annual revenue.

Retailers have already started to roll out consumer-friendly policies, such as enhanced layaway programs, aimed at capturing some of this potential revenue well before November rolls around. However, retailers that count their chickens before they hatch could be left clutching nothing but disappointing sales figures and projections full of promises to lead them into the black.

If that’s the case, it won’t be the Grinch who stole Christmas. It’ll be retailers’ own hubris instead.

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