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National Retail Federation releases holiday forecast

By Ylan Mui
You may be having visions of candy corn and pumpkin patches, but the retail industry is already knee-deep in Christmas spending forecasts. The latest organization to gaze into its crystal ball is the National Retail Federation, the industry trade group whose holiday forecast is always one of the most-cited of the season.

This year, the NRF predicts that consumer spending in November and December will rise 2.3 percent - a moderate increase that comes in just under the 10-year average gain of 2.5 percent. The group's new chief executive, Matt Shay, told me Tuesday that the forecast takes into account both the tight job market facing consumers but also the improved sentiment since the depths of the financial crisis.

"We would characterize this as neither optimistic nor pessimistic," he said. "I think we would characterize this as very realistic."

But Shay cautioned not to rely too much on consumers alone to drive the increase. Much of the fight for holiday sales will actually occur out of view of shoppers, in the back-end operations that help retailers get merchandise on the shelves. Mundane issues such as supply-chain management, inventory control, pricing, promotions and new platforms can help make the difference this Christmas, he said.

Of course, NRF is not the only one to try to predict how recession-weary consumers will respond this holiday season. Here's a rundown of other forecasts, from very merry to bah, humbug. What's your take?

  • International Council of Shopping Centers: Up 3 percent to 3.5 percent

  • Kantar Retail: Up 2.5 percent

  • Deloitte: Up 2 percent

  • BDO USA survey of retail chief financial officers: Up 1.95 percent on total 2010 spending

  • Nielsen: Flat sales

  • America's Research Group: 43 percent of shoppers plan to spend less

  • Accenture: 83 percent of shoppers will spend the same or less

By Ylan Mui  | October 6, 2010; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  *Data Digest, Retail, U.S. Economy  
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Next: N.C. joins states calling for foreclosure moratorium

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