Holiday sales outlook hinges on bargains

By Jessica Dickler, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- As the holidays approach, consumers are getting back in the buying mood, but only if the price is right.

Holiday retail sales are expected to increase 2.3% this year to $447.1 billion, according to a study released Wednesday by the National Retail Federation.

The rise marks an improvement from last year's 0.4% uptick, but is still below the ten-year average holiday sales increase of 2.5%. Overall sales have been choppy so far this year as concerns about the economic recovery abound.

"While consumers have shown they are once again willing to spend on what's important to them, they will still be very conscientious about price," federation chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a statement. "Retailers are expected to compensate for this fundamental shift in shopper mentality by offering significant promotions throughout the holiday season and emphasizing value throughout their marketing efforts."

Retailers will likely keep their inventories lean to limit their exposure to excess merchandise and unplanned markdowns, the NRF said.

"Though the retail industry is on stronger footing than last year, companies are closely watching key economic indicators like employment and consumer confidence before getting too optimistic that the recession is behind them," said Matthew Shay, the retail group's president. To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 24,946.51 72.85 0.29%
Nasdaq 7,481.99 0.25 0.00%
S&P 500 2,752.01 4.68 0.17%
Treasuries 2.85 0.02 0.78%
Data as of 2:46pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Chesapeake Energy Co... 3.06 0.04 1.32%
General Electric Co 14.31 -0.05 -0.35%
Bank of America Corp... 32.17 0.07 0.22%
Ford Motor Co 11.15 0.08 0.72%
Micron Technology In... 60.58 1.74 2.96%
Data as of Mar 16


The European Union has published a long list of American products that it could target if President Donald Trump moves forward with new tariffs on steel and aluminum. More

"It's like competing in an Olympic race wearing lead shoes," Elon Musk, referring to trade rules with China, tweeted to President Donald Trump. More

Good news for procrastinators: You get two extra days to file your federal income taxes. April 15 falls on a weekend and April 16 is a public holiday in the District of Columbia. More