Holiday sales outlook hinges on bargains

By Jessica Dickler, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- 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

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,416.85 225.48 1.31%
Nasdaq 4,683.41 45.42 0.98%
S&P 500 2,021.25 19.09 0.95%
Treasuries 1.75 0.03 1.57%
Data as of 6:31pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 118.90 3.59 3.11%
Bank of America Corp... 15.43 0.23 1.51%
Yahoo! Inc 43.73 -2.73 -5.88%
Microsoft Corp 42.01 0.82 1.99%
Facebook Inc 78.00 1.76 2.31%
Data as of 4:02pm ET

Sections

Shake Shack is a huge success in New York. But will the 'fine casual' burger and fries joint be a big hit with investors too? It looks like Wall Street has worked up its appetite for the Shake Shack IPO. More

The Wednesday announcement that Don Thompson will retire as CEO of McDonald's leaves just two black CEOs in the elite Dow 30. More

Google reported a quarterly profit on Thursday that rose from a year ago, but the company fell short of Wall Street's expectations. More

On demand delivery startup WunWun is expecting its order volume to double by the time they close up shop on Monday. All thanks to a blizzard. More

The IRS said it has carried out thousands of audits of offshore schemes and pursued criminal charges that have resulted in "billions of dollars in criminal fines and restitutions." And it won't stop there. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2015 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2015. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2015 and/or its affiliates.