Retailers expecting strong holiday sales

October kicks off the holiday shopping season. Retailers are forecasting steady growth in sales since last year despite dismal economy.

Why yes, it's time to start talking about holiday shopping. This morning the National Retail Federation predicted modest growth for our holiday shopping this year, up about four percent. An increase of four percent doesn't exactly seem like gangbusters, but is it?

Juli Neiman, analyst with Smith Moore & Company, says since 70 percent of the economy is driven by consumer spending, four or five percent growth is good, but "we've got a shopping list of anxieties -- jobs, debt, housing, elections, fiscal cliff."

Amidst this economic uncertainty, consumers are still expected to kick off their holiday shopping on schedule, starting with Halloween. Neiman says a majority of Americans spend on Halloween, "about $72-$73, that's about $8 billion. The fastest growing segment is not candy, but $20 dog costumes."

In addition we are likely to see solid end of the year performance for automakers, "we've got a lot of pent up demand -- the average age of an auto is about 11 years old -- and nearly free financing is luring in shoppers," says Neiman.

About the author

Juli Niemann is executive vice-president for research and portfolio management with Smith, Moore and Company.

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