2015 retail will be 'way better' than you think: Eyler

The 2015 holiday shopping season will cap off a much better retail year than most people are expecting, former Toys R Us CEO and chairman John Eyler told CNBC on Wednesday.

While retail forecasts have generally pegged sales increases at 4 percent this year, Eyler told "Squawk Box" he sees holiday revenue growth reaching 5 to 5 1/2 percent.

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One reason: Low gas prices and depressed levels of debt relative to past years will combine to encourage consumers to spend more.

"When you put those two together, I think you're going to see people not only spend the short-term cash that they're getting from lower gas prices, but I think they're anticipating that they're going to be able to pay off a little more debt as they move into the new year with that gas savings," Eyler said.

This year, retailers benefited from extra shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Eyler said the calendar should be good for a boost to comparable store sales growth.

If retailers add a couple of points to their topline sales this year, it will not only generate more margin dollars, but reduce the amount of product they must place on clearance, he said. Inventory control has already been "pretty spectacular" this year, he added.

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The good times might not be over when families open their presents on Christmas Day, either. Eyler noted that more business was done as a percent of the total holiday season after Christmas for the last 10 years. A big part of that trend is the increase in gift card spending.

"It's getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and that's why the post-Christmas period is getting to be a bigger indicator of how the whole season is going to come out," he said.