Nearly all indicators point toward a strong retail holiday season and start to 2004. Consumer confidence is at its highest since 2002, online retailers are feeling optimistic (see page 5), and economists are offering up merry predictions:
According to the National Retail Federation, consumers plan to spend $671.89 this holiday season, up from $648.85 last year.
According to the Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center, jewelry ranks ninth in online holiday buying choices, with 12 percent of those surveyed planning to buy jewelry. (Good news for total sales, as jewelry is a higher priced item than many other categories.)
The NRF predicts holiday sales increases of 5.7 percent—making total retail sales $217.4 billion—the largest increase seen since 1999.
Nearly a quarter of consumers surveyed by the NRF hope to receive jewelry.
Bank One economists predict that consumers will register a 6.3 percent increase in their spending for the holiday.
The New York Times reports that economists predict that the economy will grow nearly 4 percent through 2004, and that unemployment will gradually decline throughout the year.