Holiday sales set to rise 3.9 percent

Shay said retailers are optimistic for holiday season and are hoping that lawmakers in Washington can resolve their differences over fiscal policy to, at least, reopen the government and approve a debt ceiling increase before the Oct. 17 deadline so they "do not erase any economic progress we’ve already made."

"Our forecast is also somewhat hinging on Congress and the administration’s actions over the next 45 days," Shay said. 

"Without action, we face the potential of losing the faith Americans have in their leaders, and the pursuant decrease in consumer confidence." 

Economic variables including positive growth in the housing market and increased consumer demand for larger-ticket items and are giving retailers reason to be "cautiously optimistic" for decent holiday gains. 

Besides the fiscal uncertainty in Washington, retailers expressed concerns about future income growth and even policies and actions surrounding foreign affairs, all of which could effect holiday sales. 

Holiday sales tend to account for between 20-40 percent of a retailer’s annual sales, and approximately 20 percent of total industry annual sales. 

"The economy continues to expand, albeit at an unspectacular pace,” said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF's chief economist. 

"In order for consumers to turn out this holiday season, we need to see steady improvements in income and job growth, as well as an agreement from Washington that puts the economic recovery first," he said. 

"Our forecast leaves room for improvement, while at the same time provides a very realistic look at the state of the American consumer and their confidence in our economy."

NRF’s holiday sales forecast weighs consumer confidence, consumer credit, disposable personal income and previous monthly retail sales releases.