Holiday sales forecast to increase 4.1 percent

Holiday sales are looking up this season after a rough start to the year, a new survey showed on Tuesday.

The National Retail Federation said that holiday sales are expected to increase 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion in November and December, which would be the first time since 2011 that they would rise by more than 4 percent.

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“Retailers could see a welcome boost in holiday shopping, giving some companies the shot in the arm they need after a volatile first half of the year and an uneventful summer,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

Sales, which exclude autos, gas and restaurant sales, increased 3.1 percent in 2013.

NRF also expects retailers to hire between 725,000 and 800,000 seasonal workers, potentially more than the 768,000 hired last year.

Holiday sales on average have grown 2.9 percent in the past decade, including 2014’s estimates.

Seasonal sales are expected to make up approximately 19.2 percent of the $3.2 trillion in annual retail sales.

“While expectations for sales growth are upbeat, it goes without saying there still remains some uneasiness and anxiety among consumers when it comes to their purchase decisions," Shay said.

"The lagging economic recovery, though improving, is still top of mind for many Americans."

Shop.org released its forecast on Tuesday for an 8-11 percent increase for online holiday sales to as much as $105 billion.

Increasing consumer confidence, sales and housing data all point to stronger economic growth that should lead to a boost in spending for the holidays.

"Though we have only seen consumer income and spending moderately, and erratically, accelerate this year, we believe there is still room for optimism this holiday season,” said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF’s chief economist.

“In the grand scheme of things, consumers are in a much better place than they were this time last year, and the extra spending power could very well translate into solid holiday sales growth for retailers," he said.

"However, shoppers will still be deliberate with their purchases, while hunting for hard-to-pass-up bargains.”