NRF Expects Holiday Season Sales to Increase

  • NRF said that last year’s holiday season sales increased 4% to $729.1 billion.
  • NRF expects online and other non-store sales to increase by 20% to 30%, reaching $202.5 billion to $218.4 billion, compared with $168.7 billion in 2019.
  • The sales forecast excludes car dealers, gas stations, and restaurants.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) said on Monday that it expects the November and December holiday season sales to grow 3.6% to 5.2% year-on-year, reaching $755.3 billion to $766.7 billion. Although the new coronavirus epidemic has brought challenges to the entire retail industry, US retailers may still have a better ending in 2020.

Consumers shopping

NRF said that last year’s holiday season sales increased 4% to $729.1 billion. In the past five years, the average sales increase during the holiday season was 3.5%. The sales forecast excludes car dealers, gas stations, and restaurants.

“Given the pandemic, there is uncertainty about consumers’ willingness to spend,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “But with the economy improving, most have the ability to spend.”

NRF expects online and other non-store sales to increase by 20% to 30%, reaching $202.5 billion to $218.4 billion, compared with $168.7 billion in 2019. NRF’s forecast this year has been postponed due to the uncertainty brought about by the new coronavirus epidemic. Usually, NRF will release its sales forecast for the holiday season in early October.

“The outlook for the holiday season is very bright,” NRF President and CEO Matt Shay said during a call with members of the media. “We’ve seen consumers are very engaged [and] looking for opportunities to celebrate. We expect a strong finish to the season.”

The US presidential election earlier this month also distracted consumers. What’s more, additional stimulus measures should have become a “gift” for consumers and businesses before the holiday season, but the stimulus negotiations between the two parties in the United States are still far away.

“The promise of the prospect of not only widely distributed and highly effective vaccines, but also the increased progress on therapeutics to treat the coronavirus are all having an impact on consumer psyche and behavior,” Shay said on Monday.

Matthew R. Shay is a trade association executive currently serving as the president and CEO of the National Retail Federation.

US retail sales growth in October was lower than expected. Since Election Day, the surge in the number of new coronavirus infections and deaths may still further damage sales. The unemployment rate is still high, and some states have again begun to close indoor dining places and introduce other restrictions, which may once again lead to unpaid leave or layoffs.

However, hopes surrounding the distribution of effective new coronavirus vaccines have triggered optimism in the market in the near term. Prior to Monday’s NRF forecast, shares of retailers and shopping centers, such as Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Kohl’s, were all rising. Investors predict that consumers will soon return to shopping malls and consume more.

At present, Americans’ worries about going to physical stores are still growing. More and more people plan to buy goods online and start the holiday season in advance. A survey conducted by NRF earlier this month found that 42% of consumers started holiday shopping earlier than in previous years.

“No retail business is built to be closed,” Shay said. “And so, just arbitrarily saying you’ve got to be closed  that clearly was in some ways the hand of government tilting the scales of the marketplace against one category of business in favor of another under the guise of public health.”

“We have been calling on state and local governments really to focus on the ways in which we’re doing things safely not focus on products,” he said.

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Doris Mkwaya

I am a journalist, with more than 12 years of experience as a reporter, author, editor, and journalism lecturer." I've worked as a reporter, editor and journalism lecturer, and am very enthusiastic about bringing what I've learned to this site.  

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