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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holiday Retail Season Running At Strong Pace

Retail revenues probably rose in November for a fifth consecutive month as American shoppers began their holiday purchases. Reports later this week will show consumers are returning to the stores in greater numbers and spending more than in recent holiday shopping seasons.

The consensus among economists surveyed is for a 0.7 percent gain in November. That would follow a 1.2 percent October increase.

"The holiday season is running at a pretty strong pace," said Guy LeBas, of Janney Montgomery Scott LLC in Philadelphia. "There’s a broad-based uptick in sales helped by aggressive discounts."

The National Retail Federation has forecast November- December holiday sales will rise by 2.3 percent from a year ago, the most since 2006. A Bloomberg survey taken Dec. 2 to Dec. 8 showed economists raised projections for consumer purchases, the biggest part of the economy, to 2.6 percent for next year, up from their 2.3 percent estimate the prior month.

Retailers will also benefit from consumer confidence, which rose in December to the highest level in six months -- that according to the Reuters/University of Michigan report released last week.

"As we look at November into December, we see strength across the store," says Chief Financial Officer Carol Tome of Home Depot.

A strong holiday showing by retailers will be additional evidence that the U.S. economic recovery is starting to fire on multiple cylinders.

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