KEY POINTS

  • The National Retail Federation (NRF) released its 2018 holiday forecast, which calls for a year-over-year sales increase of 4.3%–4.8%, taking total sales to $717.45–$720.89 billion, up from $687.90 billion last year.
  • The 2018 forecast is below last year’s growth of 5.3% which was the largest increase since the 5.2% rise seen in 2010. This year’s forecast is above the five-year average of 3.9%. 
  • The forecast “reflects the overall strength of the industry,” including “a healthy economy and strong consumer confidence.” This year, there are 32 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, providing one more shopping day compared to last year.
  • The NRF forecasts that retailers will hire 585,000–650,000 seasonal workers this holiday period, up from 582,500 last year.

The NRF released its US holiday forecast on October 3, 2018, for November and December retail sales excluding automobiles, gasoline and restaurants: it expects sales to increase by 4.3%–4.8% year over year, to a total of $717.45–$720.89 billion, up from $687.90 billion recorded during 2017’s holiday season.

The 2018 forecast is above the five-year average of 3.9% but is below last year’s growth of 5.3% which was the largest increase since the 5.2% rise seen in 2010. The NRF stated that the holiday forecast is consistent with its annual retail sales forecast for 4.5% year-over-year growth in 2018.

The forecast “reflects the overall strength of the industry,” including “a healthy economy and strong consumer confidence,” according to NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. The NRF believes that the pace of economic activity will continue to grow through the end of the year despite concerns about the impacts of an escalating trade war.

This year, there is one more shopping day between Thanksgiving and Christmas than there was last year; the number of days between these two holidays varies between 26 (as in 2013) and 32. We discuss the benefits of a favorable calendar and a long holiday season in our US Holiday Outlook 2018 report. 

The NRF predicts that retailers will hire 585,000–650,000 seasonal workers this holiday period, up from 582,500 last year.


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