Shoppers are expected to spend $586.1 billion this holiday season, a 4.1% increase over last year, despite political and fiscal uncertainties, the National Retail Federation reported Tuesday.
The forecast is lower than last year’s growth of 5.6% to $563 billion from $533 billion in 2010, but it is higher than the 10-year average increase of 3.5%.
“This year has been a roller-coaster for those in the retail industry," said NRF President Matthew Shay during a news conference Tuesday. Retailers saw strong sales early in the year, "and they tapered off in spring, then we had a strong summer and then it tapered off again.”
The strong back-to-school season gave a bit of optimism, Shay said, which companies hope will carry into the holiday season.
Holiday sales could be hurt by factors including an 8.1% unemployment rate, but consumer confidence is buoyed by other factors.
The recovering housing market also might help boost consumers' moods during the holidays. Rising home values may make homeowners feel “richer” and a bit more confident in spending, said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz.