CHICAGO Oct 4 U.S. holiday sales will increase
by 3.6 percent in 2016, more sharply than last year, as a
stronger job market and robust household spending have improved
consumer sentiment, according to an outlook from the leading
retail industry group.
The National Retail Federation forecast sales for the last
two months of the year at $655.8 billion, excluding for autos,
gasoline and dining out. This growth rate would be significantly
higher than the 10-year average of 2.5 percent and above the 3
percent increase in 2015.
The NRF's forecast is one of the closely watched benchmarks
ahead of the holiday season, which can account for 20 percent to
40 percent of annual sales for many retailers.
The season is also a major U.S. economic indicator because
consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of gross
"This year hasn't been perfect, starting with a long summer
and unseasonably warm fall, but our forecast reflects the very
realistic steady momentum of the economy and industry
expectations," NRF Chief Executive Officer Matthew Shay said in
Online sales will rise by 7 percent to 10 percent during the
holiday season to as much as $117 billion, the group said.
Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said issues like increased
geopolitical uncertainty, the presidential election and
unseasonably warm weather could shake consumer confidence and
affect shopping patterns.
"However," Kleinhenz said in a statement, "the economic
spending power of the consumer is resilient."
(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Chicago; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)