While calling for a modest rise in holiday sales this year, a retail industry trade group cautioned that the next 45 days could make or break the season.
"Our forecast is also somewhat hinging on Congress and the administration's actions over the next 45 days," said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation. "Without action, we face the potential of losing the faith Americans have in their leaders, and the pursuant decrease in consumer confidence."
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Shay's comments came as the group issued its annual holiday sales forecast, which predicts holiday sales will rise 3.9 percent, to $602.1 billion, as consumers face economic headwinds and the impasse in D.C. The estimate is slightly higher than last year's 3.5 percent growth and the 10-year average holiday sales growth.
"Our forecast is a realistic look at where we are right now in this economy—balancing continued uncertainty in Washington and an economy that has been teetering on incremental growth for years," Shay said in a statement. "Overall, retailers are 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."