NEW YORK (AP) - The nation's largest retail trade group is forecasting holiday sales for the November and December period to rise between 3.6 percent and 4 percent to $678.75 billion to $682 billion.
The estimate from the National Retail Federation, released Tuesday, compares with 3.6 percent in the same period last year.
The dollar figure excludes sales from autos, gas and restaurants but includes online spending and other non-store sales.
The forecast is based on an economic model that considers such indicators as consumer credit, disposable personal income and monthly retail sales. It's a key industry barometer for retailers who depend on the last two months of the year. Holiday sales account for nearly 20 percent of annual retail industry sales. It also offers a snapshot of the mindset of the consumer.