With just 10 days until Christmas, the National Retail Federation revised its original sales growth prediction for the season to 3.3 percent, one percentage point higher than its original 2.3 percent year-over-year growth projection.
The optimistic change responds to “ improvement in a variety of economic indicators including stock market gains, recent income growth, savings built up during the recession – all giving consumers the capacity to spend,” the NRF said in a statement released Tuesday.
The strong consumer turnout in November is expected to keep the ball rolling through the rest of this month, the trade group said.
“The start to the holiday season has surpassed all expectations,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “While employment data is still a concern, we are starting to see improvement in other economic indicators that support an increase to our forecast. In order to sustain this momentum for retailers and the U.S. economy, there must be a renewed focus on jobs as we enter the new year.”
The holiday shopping season gets its unofficial start on Black Friday, when retailers battle for consumer dollars with aggressive sales and doorbuster prices. According to the NRF, 212 million stateside shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend. Total spending reached an estimated $45 billion.
A number of retail segments — such as apparel, accessories and books and music — have been in high demand so far, according to NRF data.
Sales at clothing and clothing accessory stores increased 2.7 percent seasonally adjusted over last month and a strong 9.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores sales increased 2.3 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 15.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year, the NRF said.
“Consumers have not been suffering from a lack of spending power, they’ve just been missing the confidence to use it,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “With noticeable improvement in key economic indicators combined with great deals on merchandise, consumers have certainly shown they shouldn’t be counted out this holiday season.”
The NRF’s holiday sales calculations are for the months of November and December.