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Mass. Retailers Lay Out Forecast For Holiday Season

BOSTON — Massachusetts retailers are predicting a slight increase in hiring and a 3.5 percent increase in sales over the upcoming holiday shopping season.

That’s less than the National Retail Federation’s prediction of a 4.1 percent increase in sales across the country, compared to the 2011 season.

This year’s shopping season includes the maximum number of days between Thanksgiving and Christmas and five full weekends. (Some years feature only four between the holidays.)

In a statement, Retailers Association of Massachusetts President Jon Hurst said local consumers are as confident as they were before local retail sales began to slow down during the 2007 holiday season, “yet they remain cautious and very deliberate with their spending, and accordingly consumers will continue to enjoy an environment of extensive promotions and value from multitude of shopping options.”

Holiday season sales dropped for three consecutive years starting in 2007 but have risen in each of the past two years. Holiday season sales in Massachusetts grew 5 percent in 2011, compared to 2010.

November and December retail sales in Massachusetts, excluding restaurants, auto sales and gas, will total about $14 billion, according to the association, which estimates holiday season sales account for nearly 20 percent of annual retail sales.

Meanwhile, beyond the holidays, Boston small business owners are cautiously optimistic about adding more jobs in the new year.

A Bank of America survey finds that about 1 in 4 local employers is expecting to hire more workers, and more than half surveyed expect their revenues to grow.

With reporting by State House News Service and the WBUR Newsroom

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