Report: Weakest Holiday Sales Since ’91

New York City Holiday sales this year will be the weakest in 17 years, according to a forecast issued Wednesday by TNS Retail Forward. It projects that total retail sales in the holiday fourth quarter will increase only 1.5%, making the 2008 holiday season the worst for retailers since 1991, when sales grew 1.2%.

“Our top-line forecast separates into two distinct groups—the leaders and the laggards,” said Frank Badillo, senior economist for TNS Retail Forward, Columbus, Ohio. “Sustaining above-average growth will be non-store and mass retailers. They will see combined growth near 6.0% in the fourth quarter. Continuing to troll the depths will be the home-goods and soft-goods retailers where growth is expected to decline 1% or more.”

TNS Retail Forward projects that online sales will grow 9% this holiday season compared with 19% in 2007. According to Badillo, the slowdown in online shopping reflects the spreading impact of the economic downturn since the last holiday season, particularly among upper-income shoppers.

For a more detailed report of the TNS Retail Forward holiday forecast, check out Chain Store Age’s Web Exclusive section at www.chainstoreage.com/webexclusive.