The Economy

Holiday Sales Growth Will Slow This Year

The National Retail Federation said that holiday sales should increase 3.7%, to $630.5 billion, this year, a deceleration from 2014's growth.
Katie Kuehner-HebertOctober 8, 2015

Consumers remain somewhat wary over the economy, and so many will likely not spend torridly this holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation.

The trade group on Wednesday said that holiday sales should increase 3.7%, to $630.5 billion this year, and while that projection is significantly higher than the 10-year average growth rate of 2.5%, it is a deceleration from last year’s 4.1% growth.

In late September, Deloitte forecast a 3.5% to 4% sales increase over last year.

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“The fact remains consumers still have the weight of the economy on their minds, further explaining the complex retail spending environment we are seeing right now,” NRF president and chief executive Matthew Shay said in a press release. “We expect families to spend prudently and deliberately, though still less constrained than what we saw even two years ago.”

Moreover, price, value and even timing will all play a role in how, when, where, and why people shop over the holiday season, Shay said. Retailers will be competitive not only on price, but on digital initiatives, store hours, and product offerings. As retailers continue to compete on price, they have to sell more to achieve the same level of sales gains.

NRF is forecasting online sales to increase between 6% and 8%, to as much as $105 billion.

The holiday season is already shaping up to be competitive, with Wal-Mart launching its layaway program two weeks early, and Target expanding its price-match guarantee, according to CNBC.

Holiday sales in 2015 are expected to represent approximately 19% of the retail industry’s annual sales of $3.2 trillion, said the NRF. Retailers are expected to hire between 700,000 and 750,000 seasonal workers, in line with last year’s 714,000 new holiday positions.