Retail group sees happy holiday

Trade group National Retail Federation (NRF) is forecasting a 4% increase in fourth quarter holiday retail sales, defined as sales in November and December for retail stores that sell general merchandise, clothing and clothing accessories, furniture and home furnishings, electronics and appliances, sporting goods, and books, over the same period in 2001. NRF's forecast joins other recent positive

Trade group National Retail Federation (NRF) is forecasting a 4% increase in fourth quarter holiday retail sales, defined as sales in November and December for retail stores that sell general merchandise, clothing and clothing accessories, furniture and home furnishings, electronics and appliances, sporting goods, and books, over the same period in 2001.

NRF's forecast joins other recent positive predictions for an end-of-year boost in retail sales. Deloitte Research chief economist Carl Steidtmann indicated in a conference call with clients earlier this month that retail sales could jump between 5.5 to 6% by year's end.

Those predictions could have silver lining for the trucking industry because the holidays represent one of the transportation industry's peak seasons for freight demand, which could add fuel to trucking's recovery.

Though truck tonnage was up 3.5% in the second quarter this year and freight levels have picked up overall for the first half of 2002, the industry still needs a significant boost as truck freight volumes fell between 5 and 15% overall last year, depending on the market segment.

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