Holiday 2018 at The Grove in Los Angeles

Holiday 2018 at The Grove in Los Angeles


NRF: Holiday 2019 Sales To Grow More than 3.8%

Despite some economic uncertainty, the trade group National Retail Federation is forecasting a strong 2019 holiday season.

It forecast that 2019 holiday retail sales will grow between 3.8 percent and 4.2 percent over the 2018 holiday season. U.S. retailers should make between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion, according to a forecast, which was released on Oct. 3. The forecast excludes sales at restaurants, automotive dealerships and gas stations.

Sales for digital retailers are forecasted to surge between 11 percent and 14 percent over the previous year, said Matthew Shay, the NRF’s president and chief executive officer. He also outlined reasons why the holiday forecast was solid.

“The U.S. economy is continuing to grow, and consumer spending is still the primary engine behind that growth,” Shay said. The U.S. unemployment rate is low—3.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Disposable spending rates are good, said Jack Kleinhenz, the NRF’s chief economist. “Consumers still feel very good with money in their pockets,” he said.

But tensions from trade wars with China, economic fallout from Brexit and political uncertainty in Washington, D.C., have bought turbulence into the forecast. Shay and Kleinhenz acknowledged the uncertainty.

“We are in uncharted territory in many ways,” Kleinhenz said of the long recovery from the Great Recession. “We have never been in a 124-month expansion.” The current recovery has lasted longer than any other economic rally in memory.

In 2018, the NRF forecasted a 4.3 percent to 4.8 percent rise over the 2017 holiday season, but, when sales were accounted for, holiday sales only grew 2.9 percent.

In February, Kleinhenz said that the missed forecast was a surprise.

“The combination of financial-market volatility, the government shutdown and trade tensions created a trifecta of anxiety and uncertainty impacting spending and might also have misaligned the seasonal adjustment factors used in reporting data,” he said in a February statement.

During the 2019 holiday forecast, the NRF also predicted that temporary hiring would grow during the upcoming holiday season. The trade group forecasted that retailers would hire 530,000 to 590,000 temporary workers to help with holiday sales. In 2018, retailers hired 554,000 temporary workers.