Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Frosty holiday sales ahead

September 23, 2008

holiday.jpgCheck out forecasts for small gains in holiday sales.

The National Retail Federation forecasts that U.S. holiday sales this year will rise 2.2 percent to $470.4 billion as consumers grapple with rising unemployment, and higher food and grocery costs.

That would mark the smallest gain since 2002, when retail sales rose 1.3 percent as a slumping economy and job woes also weighed on sentiment.

The retail group’s chief economist expects discounters to fare better this holiday season as shoppers hunt for bargains, and she does not expect an economic turnaround until the second half of next year.

Another group expects 2008 holiday sales to be even more dour.

TNS Retail Forward predicts 1.5 percent growth, which would represent the worst holiday showing in 17 years. A forecast from Deloitte calls for a sales rise of 2.5 percent to 3 percent.

These forecasts can be hard to compare, because many use different timeframes to measure holiday sales. But in the bleakest forecast yet, Britt Beemer of America’s Research Group is already predicting a decline in holiday sales.

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