The National Retail Federation (NRF) is forecasting November and December holiday sales will rise 4.1% over 2011, a figure that demonstrates both optimism and caution, according to experts. While the projection is above the 10-year average of growth for annual holiday sales increases, it’s also more than a full percentage point lower than the actual gains in each of the past two years. “In all the years, this is the most challenging year doing a forecast,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the NRF. “There are so many uncertainties.”
Despite economic strains like high unemployment, retailers appear to be relying on a recent spike in consumer confidence to make seasonal hiring decisions. According to survey data released by the consulting firm Hay Group, 36% of retailers expect to add more holiday workers this year, a 10% jump compared to 2011. Major retailers, including Walmart, Toys”R”Us and Macy’s, are all planning to significantly ramp up hiring for the holiday season.