NRF Releases its 2015 Holiday Survival Guide

NRF recently released its Retail Holiday Survival Guide which includes holiday forecasts, consumer trends and historical retail sales data. Here are some frequently asked questions about this NRF Guide. I hope this NRF information helps you not only survive, but thrive, in this holiday season.

What is NRF's prediction for holiday sales growth this year?

NRF is projecting 2015 holiday sales to rise 3.7 percent.

How much have holiday sales grown in the last few years?

Holiday sales in 2014 increased 4.1 percent and 2.7 percent in both 2013 and 2012. During a booming economy holiday sales could grow as much as 6.8 percent as they did in 2004, or could actually decrease during an economic downturn as they did in 2008 when the industry reported sales dropped 4.6 percent over the previous year. On average, holiday sales have increased 2.5 percent for the last 10 years.

What percentage of annual sales do the holidays represent?

For some retailers, the holiday season can represent as much as 30 percent of annual sales with jewelry stores reporting the highest percentage, accounting for approximately 26 percent of their sales during the 2014 holiday season. Overall last year holiday sales represented 20 percent of total retail industry sales. For historical sales by sector see page 5.

What is NRF's prediction for online holiday sales growth this year?

NRF projects online holiday sales to increase between 6 and 8 percent to as much as $105 billion during the months of November and December. Online holiday sales in 2014 increased 5.8 percent, according to NRF. What factors are used to calculate NRF's online holiday forecast? NRF's estimates are based on data collected by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Census, the Conference Board and NRF';s own calculations. These estimates include personal income and spending, consumer credit, consumer confidence and previous monthly retail reports.

Why are many retailers putting holiday merchandise on the shelves so early?

Each year about 40 percent of consumers begin their holiday shopping before Halloween. While most retailers do not begin holiday advertising until at least October or November, they recognize that many people like shopping early to spread out spending. As a result, many retailers are putting holiday merchandise on the shelves in September — specifically decorations and greeting cards, which many people buy months in advance.

Is Black Friday the busiest shopping day of the year?

ShopperTrak, which counts foot traffic at malls, reports that Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year, followed by "Super Saturday" and the Sunday before Christmas. NRF research found in 2014 that over the entire holiday weekend, beginning Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday was the busiest day with more than 87 million shoppers having shopped in stores or online that day.

Check out the full NRF 2015 Holiday Survival Guide here.