NRF Predicts Seasonal Cheer For Retailers

Sep 22, 2004

By George Anderson

The National Retail Federation (NRF) said retailers shouldn’t spend time lamenting disappointing sales from the third quarter because they’re going to be plenty busy during the upcoming holidays.

According to the NRF, retail sales (excluding food) will grow 4.5 percent this year on top of last year’s impressive 5.1 percent gain. The NRF projects sales reaching $219.9 billion over the Nov./Dec. sales period.

Rosalind Wells, NRF’s chief economist said in a prepared statement, “Although consumer spending has been inconsistent in recent months, we expect the holiday season to bring more stability to the industry. Home-related merchandise and consumer electronics should do well this holiday season and trendy fashions should help spark clothing sales.”

Ms. Wells said the same factors that have influenced purchasing during the third quarter will play a role in purchasing decisions during the holiday period. These include higher energy costs, rising interest rates, geopolitical threats and slow income growth.

Despite this, Tracy Mullin, president and chief executive of the NRF, is bullish on the prospects for the upcoming holiday. “Retailers know they will have their work cut out for them this holiday season, but they are up to the challenge,” she said. “Despite economic and geopolitical concerns, consumers continue to set aside money for what is most important to them.”

Moderator’s Comment: What do you believe will be the greatest factors influencing holiday sales? Will retailers
be able to drive sales without sacrificing margins, considering the current economic uncertainties and the competitive climate?

The NRF will release the first part of its 2004 Holiday Consumer Intentions & Actions Survey on Oct. 19.
George Anderson – Moderator

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