Holiday sales for U.S. retailers are expected to increase 4.8 percent this year.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) revealed that holiday sales growth will be higher than the average increase of 3.9 percent over the past five years. However, sales will grow at a slower pace than the 5.3 percent growth the retail market saw one year ago.
“Last year’s strong results were thanks to growing wages, stronger employment and higher confidence, complemented by anticipation of tax cuts that led consumers to spend more than expected,” Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz of the NRF said, according to Reuters. “With this year’s forecast, we continue to see strong momentum from consumers as they do the heavy lifting in supporting our economy."
He added that several factors played a role in the boost, including more jobs, improved wages, lower inflation and an increase in net worth.
According to the NRF, reported that sales for the last two months of the year are expected to hit between $717.45 billion and $720.89 billion, excluding autos, gasoline and dining out. Holiday sales in 2017 were $687.87 billion.
The NRF’s forecast is a closely watched indicator ahead of the holiday season, with the last two months of the year possibly comprising 20 percent to 40 percent of annual sales for many retailers, including Amazon, Walmart and Target.
The forecast is in line with predictions from other companies like AlixPartners, which predicts sales will grow between 3.1 percent and 4.1 percent as “2017 will be a tough year to follow.” In addition, forecasts from companies like Deloitte and PwC expect holiday retail sales to grow around 5 percent.
Those looking for a job during the season are in luck. The NRF expects seasonal employment in the retail sector to reach between 585,000 and 650,000 jobs. Last month it was reported that retailers are looking for hundreds of thousands of retail workers ahead of what is expected to be a busy holiday season. For example, Target is looking to bring on 120,000 employees across the country, while Macy’s is hiring 80,000 temporary workers for the holiday season.