NRF forecasts holiday sales will grow between 3.8 and 4.2%
The National Retail Federation said it expects holiday retail sales during November and December to increase between 3.8% and 4.2% over 2018 to a total of between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion. The numbers, which exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, compare with an average holiday sales increase of 3.7% over the previous five years.
NRF expects online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, to increase between 11% and 14% to between $162.6 billion and $166.9 billion, up from $146.5 billion last year.
The effect of tariffs on holiday spending — either directly or through consumer confidence — remains to be seen. Some holiday merchandise — including apparel, footwear and televisions — is subject to new tariffs that took effect September 1, and other products will have the tariffs applied on December 15. Retailers are using a myriad of mitigation tactics to limit the impact on consumers, and the impact will ultimately vary by company and product. Small businesses, in particular, have already been forced to raise prices. Nonetheless, 79% of consumers surveyed for NRF in September were concerned that tariffs will cause prices to rise, potentially affecting their approach to shopping.
Holiday sales during 2018 totaled $701.2 billion, an unusually small increase of 2.1 percent over the year before amid a government shutdown, stock market volatility, tariffs and other issues.
Even with trade uncertainty and the increasingly tight labor market, retailers have been hiring extra staff to meet expected demand during the holiday season. NRF expects retailers to hire between 530,000 and 590,000 temporary workers, which compares with 554,000 in 2018.