NRF Forecasts 4.1 Percent Increase in Christmas Sales

Expect a good Holiday season, according to a National Retail Federation forecast.

Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for the NRF, and Matthew Shay, the trade group’s president, forecast sales in November and December will increase 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion. It will be one of the strongest seasons in a decade, Shay predicted during a conference call on Oct. 7.

“We’re certainly encouraged. Generally the overall economic conditions are improving,” Shay said. “There is potential pent up demand. We have good foundation for a jumping off point.”

The national unemployment rate fell from 6.1 percent to 5.9 percent in September. The U.S. gross domestic product increased 4.6 percent during the second quarter, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The forecast is more robust also because of what is not happening, Kleinhenz said. There is no looming shutdown of the Federal Government or debt ceiling debate, which made investors and consumers anxious during the 2013 winter holiday season. The weather forecasts are not predicting extreme weather, which kept many consumers from shopping at the mall, Kleinhenz said.

“That put a big damper on last year’s estimates,” Kleinhenz said. “The consumer will continue to be resilient as they have been in the past."