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Additionally, ICSC anticipates that the other two measures of U.S. industry holiday sales - shopping-center sales and "GAFO-store" sales - will increase slightly as well. GAFO refers to the category of general merchandise, apparel and accessories, and furniture and furnishings.
However, this year's season comes with a bit more uncertainty than usual because of the increased crosscurrents - a softening in the economy, improving housing prices and markets, rising gasoline prices, a presidential election and the infamous looming $500bn in automatic spending cuts to the federal budget and tax increases slated for Jan. 1, 2013.
Will the Christmas holiday shopping season be held hostage to Congress's deliberations on the automatic federal spending cuts and tax increases? Michael P. Niemira, vice president of research and chief economist for ICSC, says the potential for this to happen is there, however, "despite the cautiousness displayed in our forecast for the 2012 holiday season due to the uncertainty about the automatic spending cuts, Congress has a real opportunity to resolve the issue quickly and amicably to assuage consumer fears, which, in turn, could propel this season's performance far above ICSC's current expectations."
Additionally, holiday hiring is highly correlated with holiday spending and it appears that overall, retailers will add over 26,000 seasonal jobs this year, which would be a modest increase over 2011.
Founded in 1957, ICSC is the premier global trade association of the shopping center industry. Its more than 55,000 members in over 90 countries include shopping center owners, developers, managers, marketing specialists, investors, retailers and brokers, as well as academics and public officials. As the global industry trade association, ICSC links with more than 25 national and regional shopping center councils throughout the world.
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