Holiday retail sales will likely grow 3.7% to $630.5 billion, missing last year’s 4.1% growth, according to the National Retail Federation.
Even that miss is a healthier growth than in recent years, according to the report, with the 10 year average at 2.5%.
E-commerce sales could increase as much as 8%, outpacing last year’s healthy 5.8% bump.
Here’s another study finding that the American consumer is less interested in accumulating more stuff, preferring to spend more dollars on experiences and having to spend more on services. As with other recent research, the NRF study also shows that lower- and middle-income consumers are not feeling quite so free to spend, despite the economic recovery.
The NRF’s holiday estimate is less sanguine even than Deloitte, which predicted that holiday store sales could rise 4%, and more in line with AlixPartners, which predicts growth in a range between 2.8% and 3.4%.
Some consumers may be finally buying bigger ticket items like cars that they put off until the recovery gained a bit of steam.
And, to the extent that consumers do have worries, news of global economic downturns in Europe and China and stock market swings may be reminders of the economy’s volatility. That will leave retailers with something to worry about, considering that many hope to make as much as a fifth of their annual sales at the holidays. But NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz told Bloomberg that he has faith in the economy and the strength of the consumer this year.
“Consumers have shifted some of their demand toward services and away from goods,” Kleinhenz told Bloomberg. “Consumers are buying things—there’s no doubt about it. They’re spending money on autos, on big-ticket items, and we’ve seen a big pickup in restaurants and personal services.”