Retailers expect holiday sales to rise 3%

With the holiday season right around the corner, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) is forecasting a 3.0-percent sales increase for the traditional November-December holiday period.

Additionally, the ICSC anticipates that the other two measures of U.S. industry holiday sales – shopping-center sales and “GAFO-store” sales – will increase slightly as well.
However, this year’s season comes with a bit more uncertainty than usual because of the increased crosscurrents — a softening in the economy, improving housing prices and markets, rising gasoline prices, a presidential election and the infamous looming $500 billion in automatic spending cuts to the federal budget and tax increases slated for Jan. 1, 2013. 
The organization said the Christmas holiday shopping season could “be held hostage” to Congress’ deliberations on the automatic federal spending cuts and tax increases.
Michael Niemira, vice president of research and chief economist for the ICSC, said, “Despite the cautiousness displayed in our forecast for the 2012 holiday season due to the uncertainty about the automatic spending cuts, Congress has a real opportunity to resolve the issue quickly and amicably to assuage consumer fears, which, in turn, could propel this season’s performance far above ICSC’s current expectations.”
Retailers will add more than 26,000 seasonal jobs this year, which would be a modest increase over 2011.
The ICSC is the global trade association of the shopping center industry.


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