Retail & Consumer

U.S. holiday sales could hit record levels of over $800 bln - NRF

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FILE PHOTO: Shoppers carry bags of purchased merchandise at the King of Prussia Mall, United States' largest retail shopping space, in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, U.S., December 8, 2018. REUTERS/Mark Makela

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Oct 27 (Reuters) - U.S. holiday sales could rise over 10% this year, a trade body said on Wednesday, as major consumer goods makers and retailers work to prevent supply chain disruptions from leaving shelves empty of in-demand toys and games.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) forecast sales to increase between 8.5% and 10.5%, to between $843.4 billion and $859 billion, during November and December, compared with a previous high of $777.3 billion last year. The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.

Rising income and stronger-than-ever household savings would help people pay more for goods when companies are raising prices to counter inflation, NRF said. It added there is exceptional demand for holiday products, although a survey last week highlighted customers' worry about availability.

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"If retailers can keep merchandise on the shelves and merchandise arrives before Christmas, it could be a stellar holiday sales season," NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said.

NRF also said the arrival of international travelers would further boost sales.

"That's going to give a jolt to the retail side, because there is a high correlation between international travelers and tourism in the U.S., and retail sales," NRF President Matthew Shay told reporters.

Several retailers had also begun their holiday selling as early as September, warning of longer delivery times and low product availability.

"There may be some categories in which there will be some shortages or which consumers will need to do some switching or trading ... they won't go home empty-handed," Shay said.

Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) has secured more shipping storage, while Levi Strauss & Co (LEVI.N) has redirected its goods to come in through East Coast ports, away from the congested West Coast.

Trade association ICSC also forecast an 8.9% increase in November-December sales, expecting total sales to reach $923 billion. It also expects food and beverage establishments to grow 35.4%.

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Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri

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