Holiday Sales Predictions

There are a lot of different numbers floating around for what the holiday season might look like. Here's a rundown of the various predictions as well as what the same organizations projected last year versus what they actually measured.

ICSC bases its projections on the same-store sales figures for the November/December period. ICSC is projecting same-store sales to grow 1.0 percent. Last year, the trade organization projected an increase of 2.5 percent. The actual increase it measured during the period was 2.1 percent.

Retail consulting firm America's Research Group also bases its projections on same-store sales for November/December. In a joint report with UBS, it projected same-store sales to decline 1.0 percent. It is the first time in the 23 years of compiling the survey that America's Research Group has a projected a decline. Last year, it projected a 1.8 percent increase vs. the actual 2.1 percent increase.

So ICSC's projection last year was a bit high and America's Research Group was a bit low. If that pattern holds true again, same-store sales could be flat.

Meanwhile, ShopperTrak, a firm that compiles foot traffic counts at malls, bases its projections on total retail sales for November/December. The group is projecting an increase of 0.1 percent. Last year, the group projected a 3.6 increase. The actual increase, according to the group, was 4.5 percent. The group is also projecting a 9.9 percent drop in foot traffic compared with last year.

Retail consultant TNS Retail Forward also measures retail sales for the November/December period. This year, the projection is for an increase of 1.5 percent. That would make it the weakest holiday since 1991 in the group's estimation. Last year, the firm's projection was a 3.3 percent increase. The actual increase, according to TNS, was 2.7 percent.

The National Retail Federation measures total retail sales for November/December. The group is projecting a 2.2 percent increase this season. Last year, the group projected a 4.0 percent increase. The actual increase, according to NRF's tally, was 3.0 percent.

Lastly, consulting firm Deloitte looks at sales for the three-month period from November to January. This year, it is projecting growth from 2.5 to 3.0 percent. Last year, the firm projected an increase during that period of between 4.5 and 5.0 percent. The actual increase, according to Deloitte's numbers, was 3.4 percent.

So, there it is. Every group, not surprisingly, is projecting a weaker holiday shopping season than last year. Last year, almost every group--except for America's Research Group--ended up being too bullish in its projections. If that's any guide, the season may be even worse than these numbers suggest.

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