NEW YORK (AP) - The nation's largest retail trade group is saying it expects winter holiday sales to rise 2.8 percent to $465.6 billion this year.
That would be smaller than 2010's 5.2 percent increase. But Thursday's forecast from the National Retail Federation for November and December foresees stronger growth than has occurred on average over the past 10 years.
And a 2.8 percent increase would further last year's recovery, in contrast with the drops the previous two years. Holiday sales fell 4.4 percent in 2008 and 0.4 percent in 2009.
Matthew Shay, NRF's president and CEO, said the challenging economic climate - particularly the high unemployment rate - will weigh on the biggest shopping period of the year.
But he said stores and their shoppers are acclimating.