Retail's tug of war has begun, and it's shaping up to be a draw.
One on end of the rope is a tightening labor market, rising home values and seasonal gas prices that have hit an 11-year low. On the other end is an uncertain stock market, slowing global growth, and a consumer base that is shelling out more on rent and experience-based purchases.
The end result, according to three separate sales forecasts released Wednesday, is a holiday season that shouldn't cause retailers to hit the panic button—but also doesn't signal robust growth.
"Ultimately we're seeing a holiday that's going to be a fair amount below the trailing five- and 10-year averages," said Noam Paransky, director in the retail practice at AlixPartners consulting firm. "It's certainly not going to be a holiday for the ages."