[By Patti Freeman Evans]
There may be some optimism in the air for retailers this holiday. U.S. retail sales rose 1.3% in November according to the Commerce Department, marking the third increase in the past four months, and the Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment for December rose to 73.4, up from 67.4 in November. The ICSC-Goldman Sachs chain store index, which includes about 30 retailers, was up 2.4 percent last week from the same period a year ago. Good news was also delivered to eCommerce retailers: Cyber Monday sales appeared strong.
The National Retail Federation, in a report released earlier last week, said that on average, consumers had completed less than half of their holiday shopping and 19% still haven’t started. As shipping deadlines come to a close, last minute-shopping could provide retailers a final boost to close out the year.
Forrester predicted in our 2009 US Online Holiday Retail Forecast that online retail sales would reach $44.7 billion during November and December, a year-over-year increase of 8%. The hopeful numbers surrounding consumer sentiment, retail sales, and holiday shopping provide an upbeat outlook for those forecasted numbers, and sets an encouraging tone for the retail space in 2010.