While the National Retail Federation (NRF) is projecting a 3.9 percent increase in sales during November and December, retailers are taking a wait-and-see approach to the impacts of the government shutdown on the stock market and jobs.
"Overall, retailers are cautiously optimistic for the 2013 holiday season, hoping political debates over government spending and the debt ceiling do not erase any economic progress we've already made," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. NRF's forecast of 3.9 percent growth and $602.1 billion in sales during the 2013 holiday season is higher than 2012's actual holiday sales growth rate of 3.5 percent.
However, the Dow Jones industrial average plummeted 136.66 points on Thursday (October 3), and stock ratings for retailers such as American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE: AEO) and Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF) have been downgraded, in part due to weaker back-to-school sales. Walmart (NYSE: WMT) and Target (NYSE: TGT) have also lowered earnings guidance this year because of soft summer sales.
In addition, the NRF warned that fiscal concerns around the debt ceiling and government funding, income growth, and foreign affairs policies, could impact holiday sales.
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