The National Retail Federation (NRF) expects 2019 holiday retail sales to increase over last year by between 3.8% and 4.2%. The NRF’s sales prediction covers November and December (The NRF predictions exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants). Here are several other predictions NRF has released for 2019.

Between $727- $730.7 billion| NRF’s predicted holiday spending
Between 3.8% and 4.2% | Predicted percentage growth over 2018

How much have holiday sales grown in previous years?

2.1% | Holiday sales growth between 2017 and 2018.

The NRF says last year’s growth was an unusually small increase. It attributes the slow growth to a government shutdown, stock market volatility, tariffs, and other issues.

5.2% | During 2017, holiday sales grew by 5.2 percent

This year’s forecast tops the 3.7 percent average increase seen each year over the past five years.

During a booming economy, holiday sales can increase significantly, as they did in 2004 when they grew 6.8 percent. They can also decrease during an economic downturn as they did in 2008 when holiday sales dropped 4.7 percent from the previous year.

What percentage of annual sales do the holidays represent?

20% | Overall, holiday sales represent about 20 percent of annual retail sales each year, but the figure can be higher for some retailers. Hobby, toy and game stores report the highest share at about 30 percent. In addition, holiday sales can be more profitable because the increased volume of purchases comes without significantly increasing retailers’ fixed costs of doing business.

How many extra jobs does the retail industry create during the holiday season?

The NRF estimates that retailers will hire between 530,000 and 590,000 temporary workers during the 2019 holiday season. Retailers hired 554,000 temporary workers during the 2018 holiday season.

Will consumers see higher prices this year because of tariffs?

The impact of tariffs on holiday spending – either directly or through consumer confidence – remains to be seen. Some holiday merchandise including apparel, footwear, and televisions are subject to new tariffs that took effect on September 1, and other products will have tariffs applied on December 15.

Small businesses have already been forced to raise prices. Nonetheless, 79 percent of consumers surveyed for NRF in September were concerned that tariffs will cause prices to rise, potentially affecting their approach to shopping

Why do retailers put holiday merchandise on the shelves so early?

Each year about 40 percent of consumers begin their holiday shopping before Halloween. While most retailers do not begin holiday advertising until at least October, they recognize that many people like shopping early to spread out their spending. As a result, many retailers begin putting holiday merchandise on the shelves in September, especially decorations and greeting cards, which many people buy months in advance.

What is Black November? How are retailers participating in it?

Black November is a term coined by a variety of retailers offering Black Friday deals as early as November 1 in response to consumers’ desire to get a head start on holiday shopping. Participating retailers offer special deals on key holiday gifts such as toys, consumer electronics, apparel and more. These deals can be found both online and in stores.

Are deals and store openings cutting into Black Friday’s sales momentum?

There is no question that heavy discounting early in the holiday sales season – both online and in stores – along with retailers opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day have cut into Black Friday sales. However, Black Friday weekend remains the unofficial kickoff to the holidays and is an important tradition for millions of shoppers across the country. There is no indication that this will change in the foreseeable future.

Is NRF affiliated with Small Business Saturday?

NRF is not officially affiliated with Small Business Saturday but supports any initiative to recognize the millions of small retail business establishments and their contributions to the economy and their communities. An estimated 90 percent of all U.S. retail companies employ 100 people or fewer.

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