Holiday retail sales projected to increase more than 4 percent

Retail sales will increase again over last year, according to the  National Retail Federation in their Holiday Forecast and Consumer Trends report.
The National Retail Federation projects 2014 holiday sales to increase over 2013. | Matt Zuzolo/Missouri Business Alert

With Black Friday underway, holiday shopping season is officially in full swing, and retailers are expecting a bigger boost from holiday sales this year than they’ve gotten the past couple of years.

National retail sales for November and December were expected to grow 4.1 percent, to $616.9 billion, according to a National Retail Federation report. That compares favorably to last year’s 3.1 percent growth and is the first annual increase of more than 4 percent since 2011.

Before Thanksgiving week hit, the president of the Missouri Retailers Association said expectations in Missouri mirrored national projections.

“We’re expecting the holiday season a 4 percent increase as a whole,” MRA President David Overfelt said. “Missouri follows the national data to the T.”

Even though the bulk of this week’s shoppers — 140 million nationally, according to Overfelt — will do their shopping today, Overfelt said he expected many to take advantage of deals throughout the week, including on Thanksgiving.

“We’ve been talking about Black Friday and Thanksgiving specials starting earlier and earlier every year,” said Overfelt. “It’s becoming a bit of an event day.”

The hype surrounding Black Friday has grown and become a competition for retailers. Overfelt says that traditional brick and mortar stores do everything they can to compete with other brick and mortar stores and internet retailers.

Bargain hunter beware

Despite an array of ads enticing people to shop this weekend, consumers should be careful to make sure they’re actually getting good deals, according to personal finance website NerdWallet.

The site conducted a study that investigated how good the deals offered on Black Friday really are.

“Black Friday gets a lot of hype that it’s the best shopping day of the year,” said Matt Ong, senior retail analyst for NerdWallet. “We wanted to see if that was actually the case.”

The study found that Black Friday deals aren’t always a once-a-year chance.

“We found in our study that many Black Friday deals are actually repeat deals,” Ong said.

He said that even with new product updates each year, older models are often still advertised, selling for the same price that they sold for earlier in the year, or even the previous year.

“Do your homework,” Ong said. “The key to Black Friday is to do your homework and be a smart shopper.”

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