National group says holiday chain store stores to increase by 3 percent

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The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) is forecasting a 3 percent sales increase for the traditional November-December holiday period. Plus, it expects that two other measures of U.S. industry holiday sales ―shopping center sales and sales at stores that specialize in department-style merchandise — will increase slightly as well.

This year’s forecast, released Tuesday, comes with a bit of caution because of a number of crosscurrents — a softening in the economy, improving housing prices and markets, rising gasoline prices, a presidential election and the looming $500 billion in automatic spending cuts to the federal budget and tax increases slated for Jan. 1, 2013. 

Michael P. Niemira, vice president of research and chief economist for the New York-based ICSC, said in a statement that “despite the cautiousness displayed in our forecast for the 2012 holiday season due to the uncertainty about the automatic spending cuts, Congress has a real opportunity to resolve the issue quickly and amicably to assuage consumer fears, which, in turn, could propel this season’s performance far above ICSC’s current expectations.”

Holiday hiring is tied to holiday spending, and it appears that retailers will add more than 26,000 seasonal jobs this year, which the ICSC said would be a modest increase over 2011.


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