POSTED:10/02/2012 - 19:17

Via NBC News:  The best that can be said about the 2012 holiday shopping season is that it will be about average, according to the latest forecast from the National Retail Federation (NRF), a retail trade group. The NRF predicts that holiday sales this year will increase 4.1 percent to $586.1 billion — that’s just above the 10-year average of 3.5 percent growth for annual holiday sales increases, but down from the 5.6 percent growth figure for holiday sales in 2011.

Consulting firm Deloitte has a similarly tempered outlook for 2012 holiday sales. It recently issued a forecast for retail sales for the November through January period to rise between 3.5 percent and 4 percent this year, down from a gain of 5.9 percent in 2011. Deloitte blamed the downturn on high gas prices and weak housing and job markets.

The factors restraining holiday sales this year also include an upcoming presidential election, gridlock in Washington surrounding the expiration of tax cuts and spending cuts, also called “the fiscal cliff,” and concern relating to future economic growth. These variables are likely to combine to impact consumers and their spending, according to the NRF’s President and CEO Matthew Shay. 



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