The National Retail Federation Sees a Strong Holiday Season

U.S. sales for the holiday 2018 season are expected to be better than last year.

According to the National Retail Federation, there should be a 4.3 percent to 4.8 percent rise over last year’s strong holiday season.

Excluding autos, gas and restaurants, U.S. retailers stand to rack up a total of $717.45 billion to $720.89 billion in sales, according to an NRF forecast released Oct. 3. That is a lot stronger than last year’s $687.90 billion in holiday sales, which were up 5.3 percent over the previous year and had the highest year-over-year increase since 2010, when a 5.2 percent rise was recorded, said Matthew Shay, NRF president and chief executive officer.

“Thanks to a healthy economy and strong consumer confidence, we believe that this holiday season will continue to reflect the growth we’ve seen over the past year,” he said.

Jack Kleinhenz, NRF’s chief economist, said almost every economic element is in place to make consumers comfortable spending a lot of money.

“With this year’s forecast, we continue to see strong momentum from consumers as they do the heavy lifting in supporting our economy. The combination of increased job creation, improved wages, tamed inflation and an increase in net worth all provide the capacity and the confidence to spend,” Kleinhenz said.

In past years, NRF’s annual forecast was released during a conference call with reporters and Wall Street analysts. On Oct. 3, the forecast was released in a live video stream webcast by YouTube.

Kleinhenz was asked how consumers will finance shopping lists during the upcoming season with healthcare and gas prices inching up. Kleinhenz conceded that the 2018 holiday season won’t be a cakewalk.

“Retailers will not only be competing with other retailers. They’ll be competing with budgets that will be stretched. Healthcare costs, rents and energy are all going up at a considerable pace,” he said.

He also noted that many shoppers increasingly spend dollars on fine restaurants and trips over gifts, and retailers will have to compete for those shoppers’ attention.

The NRF predicted that retailers will be hiring between 585,000 and 650,000 seasonal workers. In 2017, 582,500 seasonal workers were brought on board for the holidays.