New report says holiday sales could increase as much as 4 percent to $682 billion in November and December

The National Retail Federation (NRF) said Tuesday it expects holiday retail sales in the U.S. during November and December to increase as much as 4 percent.

The report said shoppers are likely to be in the mood to spend this year and expects sales to increase 3.6 to 4 percent compared to last year. The NRF believes retailers across the nation could rake in as much as $682 billion this holiday season, up from $655.8 billion last year.

In 2016, holiday sales rose 3.6 percent from a year earlier.

Even though 2017 has been disrupted by political unrest following the election of President Donald Trump and several major hurricanes and other natural disasters, the NRF thinks this year will be the best one ever for holiday sales.

“Our forecast reflects the very realistic steady momentum of the economy and overall strength of the industry,” NRF CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “Although this year hasn’t been perfect, especially with the recent devastating hurricanes, we believe that a longer shopping season and strong consumer confidence will deliver retailers a strong holiday season.”

US retailers expect record-breaking holiday shopping
Since 2010, every year has broken holiday sales records, a pattern the NRF believes will continue. The group cites job growth and a growing economy as reasons to expect another record-breaking season.

The calendar deeply impacts retail sales, the NRF argues. This year is bolstered by the fact that there are 32 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, one day more than in 2016. Christmas also falls on a Monday, so there is an extra weekend day for last-minute shopping.

“Consumers continue to do the heavy lifting in supporting our economy, and all the fundamentals are aligned for them to continue doing so during the holidays,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in the report.

“The combination of job creation, improved wages, tame inflation and an increase in net worth all provide the capacity and the confidence to spend.”