On the heels of stock market gains, recent income growth and savings, the National Retail Federation recently revised its forecast for the holiday shopping season to 3.3 percent, up from the previously announced 2.3 percent.
NRF recently reported November retail sales (excluding autos, gas stations and restaurants) increased 0.8 percent seasonally adjusted over October and 6.8 percent unadjusted over 2009.
"The start to the holiday season has surpassed all expectations," says Matthew Shay, NRF's president and chief executive officer. "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."
Key categories posted the following sales results (U.S. Commerce Department):
Clothing and clothing accessory stores: 2.7 percent increase month-to-month and 9.6 percent increase year-over-year
Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores: 2.3 percent increase month-to-month and 15.5 percent increase year-over-year
Health and personal care stores: 0.9 percent increase month-to-month and 7.3 percent increase year-over-year
General merchandise stores: 1.3 percent increase month-to-month and 4.2 percent increase year-over-year
"Consumers have not been suffering from a lack of spending power, they've just been missing the confidence to use it," says Jack Kleinhenz, NRF's chief economist. "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."