NRF Chief Economist, Rosalind Wells, said "After several strong months of retail sales growth, it seems clear that the economy is picking up momentum just in time for the holidays. Retail sales gains for the 2003 holiday season will be far better than the meager increases retailers experienced a year ago."
Wells cites a variety of factors for this holiday's substantial sales increase, including low interest rates, low inflation, rising equity markets, and mounting consumer confidence. Also, she said, consumers have more disposable income resulting from the withholding tax cut and child tax credit checks. Several nagging factors affecting sales growth, she said, include a sluggish job market, rising energy costs, and ever-present geopolitical concerns.
Additionally, business spending is a major factor contributing to this year's holiday forecast. Retail spending by businesses on equipment and software jumped 8.0 percent at an annual rate in the second quarter following an extended period of weakness going back to 2000.
NRF President and CEO, Tracy Mullin, said "Americans appear to be ready to shop and ready to spend, just in time for the biggest shopping season of the year." Last year, holiday retail sales made up 22.7 percent of total retail sales.
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