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Holiday Sales Expected to Show Moderate Growth

WASHINGTON - In the months of November and December, holiday sales are expected to increase by 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion, in comparison to 3.5 percent in 2012, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

The NRF reported that the holiday season can account for anywhere from 20-40 percent of a retailer's annual sales, and accounts for approximately 20 percent of total industry annual sales. However, the current economy and its fiscal concerns, debt, legislations and international affairs are all hindering consumer's buying habits, making them more cautious.

"Our forecast is a realistic look at where we are right now in this economy - balancing continued uncertainty in Washington and an economy that has been teetering on incremental growth for years," said Matthew Shay, president and CEO, NRF. "Overall, retailers are optimistic for the 2013 holiday season, hoping political debates over government spending and the debt ceiling do not erase any economic progress we've already made."

On the recent government shutdown and NRF's holiday outlook, Shay added, "Our forecast is also somewhat hinging on Congress and the Administration's actions over the next 45 days; without action, we face the potential of losing the faith Americans have in their leaders, and the pursuant decrease in consumer confidence."

NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz added, "The economy continues to expand, albeit at an unspectacular pace," said "In order for consumers to turn out this holiday season, we need to see steady improvements in income and job growth, as well as an agreement from Washington that puts the economic recovery first. Our forecast leaves room for improvement, while at the same time provides a very realistic look at the state of the American consumer and their confidence in our economy."

Employment will get a boost for holiday. Overall, retailers are expected to hire between720,00 and 780,00 employees for the holiday season, according to the NRF.

Online, sales are expected to grow between 13 and 15 percent in November and December, over last holiday season to as much as $82 billion, according to a recent Shop.org forecast.

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