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Forecasters Predict Holiday Sales Growth

Analysts are expecting modest growth in holiday shopping this year, with retail sales forecast to rise between 2.4% and 4% this winter. The positive forecast is largely due to an improving labor market and continued relief at the gas pump, according to Daniel Bachman, senior U.S. economist with Deloitte. He cautions, however: “The increase may be smaller than last year due to the lingering effects of flat personal income growth in the first quarter.”

Deloitte is calling for a sales increase of between 3.5% and 4% from November through January, excluding motor vehicles and gasoline. That’s lower than last year’s 5.2% gain. Consumer research company ShopperTrak is predicting a 2.4% rise in in-store sales from November 1 to December 31. Meanwhile, AlixPartners forecasts growth between 2.8% and 3.4% for the holiday season. This morning, the National Retail Federation (NRF) called for a 3.7% increase, predicting sales in November and December will reach $630.7 billion. A 3.7% rise would be a jump “significantly higher than the 10-year average of 2.5%,” the NRF said.

Ad specialty distributors continue to be optimistic about Q4 sales, as well. Larry Cohen, president of Top 40 firm Axis Promotions (asi/128263), believes fourth-quarter sales at his New York distributor firm will equal or exceed 2014. “Our overall business is up, and we are really busy,” Cohen said. “We are having very fruitful initial discussions with many of our clients about this holiday season. Their budgets have not been cut, and they are excited to recognize their clients and their employees.”

Jodie Carlson, co-owner of Proforma Elite Texas Graphics (asi/300094) in Blue Ridge, TX, also expects strong Q4 sales, thanks to products like etched wine bottles and engraved cutting boards. “We work primarily with companies in the real estate industry, and these types of items are great for generating gift-giving sales in this market,” she said.