The National Retail Federation (NRF) released its forecast for the holiday shopping season, projecting that holiday retail sales in November and December will increase between 3.6% and 4% year over year.
The forecast, which excludes automobile, gasoline and restaurant sales, comes roughly a month after the trade group scaled back its estimate for full-year retail sales, citing a mix of shopper trends and broader economic drivers for the damped outlook. For 2017 overall, the NRF expects retail sales to increase by 3.2% to 3.8%. The group's February forecast had projected annual sales would register a gain between 3.7% and 4.2%.
The estimate for this year's holiday period is flat to slightly up from 2016's 3.6% growth. Sales this season will be boosted by quirks of the calendar, with Christmas falling 32 days after Thanksgiving—one day more than in 2016. In addition, Christmas falls on a Monday this year, allowing for a full weekend of shopping just prior to the holiday. The five-year average sales increase is 3.5%, according to the NRF.
“We believe that a longer shopping season and strong consumer confidence will deliver retailers a strong holiday season,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a press release.
The NRF's estimate is higher than eMarketer's forecast for the holiday period. eMarketer projects total retail sales will grow a moderate 3.1% year over year, as retailers continue to experience heavy discounting.
Unlike the NRF, eMarketer includes all US Department of Commerce retail sectors in its retail forecast, including car and gasoline sales.