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(Reuters) - U.S. consumers are expected to head back to the malls beginning the Friday after Thanksgiving, giving at least a short-term boost to retailers in advance of the holidays.
Retail insiders cite still-pressured consumer spending by shoppers who are wary of opening their wallets, but forecast an improvement over last year's disastrous results. Here are holiday shopping outlooks from a variety of trade groups and research firms.
* Expects a 1 percent drop in total 2009 U.S. holiday sales to $437.6 billion, compared with a 3.4 percent decline in 2008. The trade association expects that shoppers will spend 3.2 percent less on holiday gifts this year than last due to persistent worries over unemployment and the economy.
* Says U.S. holiday sales should rise 1 percent to 2 percent, and expects same-store sales, a key measure of retail strength, to be up 1 percent in the November and December period.
* The retail research company sees a 1.6 percent rise in retail sales during the holidays, but a 4.2 percent decline in shopper traffic to stores. That compares with a 5.9 percent sales decline in 2008 and a 15.4 percent fall in total U.S. foot traffic last season.
* The consultants expect flat sales growth for the holiday fourth quarter, making it the second-worst season in 42 years behind last year.
* The consumer research group expects holiday sales could fall between 2.5 percent to 4.5 percent, representing the most dire of the holiday sales outlooks.
Reporting by Alexandria Sage; editing by Andre Grenon