Survey: Holiday sales to rise at least 3 percent

Despite concerns about rising energy costs and lower consumer demand, the 2005 holiday season is shaping up to be a positive one for the nation’s retailers, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) reported Thursday.

According to, Michael P. Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist and director of research, overall comparable-store holiday sales are expected to rise by 3 to 3.5 percent for November and December combined, on a year-over-year basis. In 2004, the two-month holiday season posted a 2.3 percent gain.

“The upcoming holiday season will fare reasonably well compared with past years and will be on par with the growth rate we have seen thus far in 2005,” Niemira said. “However, this year, holiday sales will be driven by price and promotional activities as consumers deal with higher gasoline prices and heating bills. Sales will be uneven from retailer to retailer and it is expected that those who compete on price will be the most successful,” Niemira added.