Holiday retail sales growth could disappoint

Retailers could see slowest holiday sales growth since 2002 at 4%, below the ten-year average growth of 4.8%.

NEW YORK ( -- Sales growth during the 2007 holiday season could be the slowest since 2002, according to industry forecasts.

Retail sales are expected to rise 4 percent this year to $474.5 billion, according to National Retail Federation forecasts released Wednesday.

The expected sales increase would fall below the ten-year average of 4.8 percent and represent the slowest holiday sales growth since 2002, when sales rose 1.3 percent, the industry group said.

"Retailers are in for a somewhat challenging holiday season as consumers are faced with numerous economic obstacles," said Rosalind Wells, Chief Economist at the Federation. "With the weak housing market and current credit crunch, consumers will be forced to be more prudent with their holiday spending."

Discounters and some department stores are expected to be the worst hit, as low to middle-income shoppers are more affected by the economy. Luxury retailers, whose customers tend to maintain high levels of spending, should be less impacted.

The National Retail Federation expects to release the first of a series of holiday surveys on October 16, polling shoppers on where they will shop and how much they expect to spend. Top of page