* NRF sees Nov-Dec sales up 3.9 pct vs 3.5 pct in 2012
* Government shutdown not an issue for most consumers - NRF
* Online sales seen up 13-15 pct vs 11.1 pct in 2012
By Jessica Wohl
Oct 3 U.S. retail sales should rise 3.9 percent
this holiday season, outpacing last year's gains, though
economic concerns may impact shoppers' spending, the world's
largest retail trade association said on Thursday.
The National Retail Federation expects U.S. sales in
November and December to rise 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion.
That would surpass the 3.5 percent increase seen in 2012 and
average growth of 3.3 percent over the past decade, but fall
short of gains of more than 5 percent seen in both 2011 and
The NRF forecast is closely watched ahead of the holiday
season. The season is critical to retailers, as it can account
for anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of a retailer's annual sales
and accounts for about 20 percent of total industry annual
sales, according to the trade group.
The NRF's forecast assumes that the federal government
shutdown will get resolved. For now, the issue is not a big
concern for most shoppers, NRF President and Chief Executive
Officer Matthew Shay said in an interview.
The NRF surveyed consumers on Tuesday, "and more than
two-thirds of them said the government shutdown is not going to
affect their spending," Shay said.
"But if it continues for an extended period of time then it
certainly could have consequences for the broader economy and
for consumer spending and holiday retail sales," Shay said.
With consumer spending making up about 70 percent of the
U.S. economy, the holiday season is an important gauge for the
overall economy. For the last year, 70 percent to 80 percent of
consumers listed the economy as the top issue they take into
consideration when making spending decisions, Shay said.
On Friday, the U.S. Commerce Department said that American
families spent 0.3 percent more in August than the month before.
Incomes rose 0.4 percent, the most since February, which
analysts said could drive faster spending in the coming months.
However, consumer sentiment slid in September to its lowest
level in five months, according to the final reading of the
Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's consumer survey.
NRF's Shop.org division forecast a 13 to 15 percent increase
in online holiday sales to as much as $82 billion, which would
be stronger than the increase of about 11.1 percent seen during
the 2012 season.
The NRF's 3.9 percent forecast exceeds a 3.4 percent growth
forecast from another trade group, the International Council of
Shopping Centers. It is also higher than a forecast from
research firm ShopperTrak, which expects sales in stores to rise
2.4 percent. Others are more upbeat, with
AlixPartners forecasting gains of 4.1 percent to 4.9 percent, up
from 3.9 percent last year, while Deloitte called for sales to
rise 4 to 4.5 percent for November-to-January, versus 4.5
percent growth a year earlier.
The NRF forecast exclude sales at automotive dealers, gas
stations and restaurants.