By Michelle Graff
Stamford, Conn.--Synchrony Financial is the latest organization to release its forecast for the holiday season, and it predicts single-digit growth in the same range as the NRF and Deloitte.

Synchrony (formerly GE Capital Retail Finance) said Thursday that it expects holiday sales to grow 3.5 percent year-over-year, an estimate that is line with the 10-year historical average of 3 percent. 

Seasonally adjusted sales for November-December 2013, including all online and offline purchases made in core retail categories, totaled $505.5 billion. Sales this year are expected to top $522 billion. 

Synchrony Chief Marketing Officer Toni White said that consumers are “confident, yet cautious in making purchases,” and are using digital tools to research, compare deals and buy. 

The company said its 2014 forecast is based on a number of factors, including the unemployment rate, gas prices--which are down--and private residential construction. It said that a steadying labor market, long-term strength in key economic indicators of personal consumption expenditures, consumer credit and residential construction are creating an environment conducive to boosting retail sales. 

Deloitte cited similar positive factors when it released its holiday sales prediction in September, forecasting that sales will grow between 4 and 4.5 percent. 

Similarly, the National Retail Federation predicts a 4 percent increase in November-December sales this year, though retailers interviewed by National Jeweler said if there is growth this holiday season, they expect it to come from the high end of the market, as the middle of their customer base continues to struggle. 


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