October 3, 2018 / 4:47 PM / 8 months ago

U.S. retailer group sees 2018 holiday sales up more than 4 pct

NEW YORK, Oct 3 (Reuters) - U.S. holiday sales will increase 4.3 percent to 4.8 percent, getting a boost from a strong economy, according to a forecast from a leading retail industry group.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) forecast compares with an average increase of 3.9 percent over the past five years.

The retail trade group said it expects sales for the last two months of the year between $717.45 billion and $720.89 billion, excluding autos, gasoline and dining out.

NRF's forecast is one of the most closely watched benchmarks ahead of the holiday season, when retailers like Macy's Inc , Walmart Stores Inc and Target Corp generate an outsized portion of their profits and sales.

The last two months of the year can account for 20 percent to 40 percent of annual sales for many retailers. (Reporting by Nandita Bose in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)

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