Holiday sales forecasts indicate strong growth for retailers

(Reuters) - Early holiday sales forecasts are indicating a largely stronger season for retailers than last year, helped by higher online sales and increasing spending power due to a strong labor market.

A customer exits after shopping at a Macy's store in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Deloitte said it expects holiday sales to grow 4 percent to 4.5 percent over last year’s shopping season.

Less than 11 percent of the $1.04 trillion to $1.05 trillion in total sales is expected to come from ecommerce, the consultancy estimated.

Ecommerce sales comprised about 19 percent of total retail sales last year, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

The NRF, a group that includes large and small retail business owners, said in January that holiday sales had grown 4 percent last year to $658.3 billion. The industry group is yet to put out its holiday sales forecast for this year.

Analytics firm RetailNext forecast 3.8 percent growth in holiday sales, while consulting firm AlixPartners on Wednesday forecast sales to grow 3.5 percent to 4.4 percent.

Disposable personal income is expected to grow 3.8 percent to 4.2 percent, from 2 percent last year, Deloitte’s senior U.S. economist, Daniel Bachman, said in a statement.

“Consumer confidence remains elevated, the labor market is strong and the personal savings rate should remain stable at its current low level,” he said.

Online sales are expected to grow 18-21 percent to $111 billion to $114 billion, according to Deloitte, while RetailNext expects a 14.9 percent jump.

Major retailers including Target TGT.N are set to hire thousands of workers this holiday season to improve customer service on their sales floors and handle the fast-growing use of their stores to fulfill online orders.

However, Wal-Mart Stores Inc WMT.N said on Wednesday it would not hire temporary workers in the holiday season for the second straight year but will offer extra hours to its employees.

Deloitte cautioned that the threat of a government debt-ceiling crisis or an increase in savings rate could hamper consumer spending.

Reporting by Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel