Holiday Sales Forecast: 3.3 Percent Increase

In one of the first forecasts for the 2012 Holiday shopping season, Chicago-based ShopperTrak predicted that national retail sales will increase 3.3 percent compared with last year, said Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak.

“Retailers have reason to be optimistic about this season. It’s clear that foot traffic is increasing, and month-over-month sales continue to be better than expected,” Martin said. “In fact, our shopper-visit data tells us that consumers are visiting more stores than last year.

But the shopping season will start slowly because of the presidential election. In 2008, retail foot traffic declined 6.3 percent the week before that year’s presidential election. However, spending rebounded quickly after the election. ShopperTrak’s Martin recommended store managers wait to unveil their Holiday marketing and promotional initiatives soon after the election, rather than follow the typical late-October schedule.

The upcoming Holiday season will be a good one for apparel and accessories retailers. Foot traffic will increase 3.5 percent over the previous year. Sales for apparel and accessories are forecast to increase 4 percent this year over last year.—A.A.