Two Forecasts Predict Strong Holiday Season

Holiday spending will rise over last year, according to the first two retail forecasts for the upcoming year-end sales season.

ShopperTrak, a Chicago-based service that counts and analyzes retail foot traffic, predicted that holiday sales will rise 3.3 percent.

Its survey estimates that retail foot traffic will increase 2.8 percent. This would trump the 2011 holiday season, when foot traffic dropped 2.2 percent.

A ShopperTrak release wrote that, by its count, retail sales have risen 34 of the past 35 months.

“Retailers have reason to be optimistic about this season,” said company founder Bill Martin in a statement. “It’s clear that foot traffic is increasing and month-over-month sales continue to be better than expected.”

Meanwhile, the Hay Group, a market consultancy, found that 75 percent of the retailers it surveyed expect holiday sales to rise.

Retailers are also planning to boost their hiring last year: 57 percent of retailers plan to hire seasonal workers at the same level as last year, while 36 percent say they will be hiring more. In 2011, just 10 percent planned to hire more seasonal workers than the year before.

“Retailers are betting that 2012 is going to be a great holiday season,” said Craig Rowley, vice president and global practice leader for Hay Group’s retail practice, in a statement. “After four years of economic turbulence, they have figured out how to operate in an uncertain business environment and are calm and cool, knowing that they are ready, as they head into the holidays.”

The survey queried 14 major U.S. retailers including Ann Inc., Hot Topic Inc., Chico’s FAS Inc., and David’s Bridal.

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