The National Retail Federation (NRF) forecasts a 3.6 percent to 4 percent rise in holiday retail sales during the November-to-December period for a total of $678.8 billion to $682.0 billion, the trade association said Tuesday. This would put 2017 in line with last year's holiday sales, which increased 3.6 percent year-over-year (the five-year average is a 3.5 percent increase, according to the NRF). The estimate excludes gas, autos and restaurants. There are 32 shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, one more than last year, and there's an extra weekend day for shopping since Christmas falls on a Monday.
Total Retail's Take: This is encouraging news for retailers that have endured a challenging year. For most retail businesses, the fourth quarter represents the busiest time of the year, and many are dependent on a strong holiday season to push their sales from the red into the black. As in recent years, e-commerce, and mobile in particular, figure to see the largest growth in holiday orders, but the lion's share of purchasing will take place in brick-and-mortar stores.
“Our forecast reflects the very realistic steady momentum of the economy and overall strength of the industry,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a company press release. “Although this year hasn’t been perfect, especially with the recent devastating hurricanes, we believe that a longer shopping season and strong consumer confidence will deliver retailers a strong holiday season.”