Morgan Stanley Forecasts Slowing Holiday Sales Growth

Holiday retail sales growth is expected to slow from last year's levels despite consumers' improved financial health, according to Morgan Stanley . The bank estimates 1.2% comparable-store sales growth for softlines - retailers selling items like clothing and accessories - compared with 2.8% last year because of a warm winter and a challenging comparison with last year's numbers. Morgan Stanley estimates 3% comparable-store sales growth at hardline and broadline retailers, which includes categories such as appliances and electronics. "While 3% comps are healthy on the surface, they are being held back by spending on big ticket durable goods as well as communication services," Morgan Stanley wrote in a report. The bank also said competition across online and off-line channels will distribute growth unevenly. Nike Inc. , Lululemon Athletica Inc. and Best Buy Co. Inc. are in a good position for the season, according to the report, while DSW Inc. and Steve Madden Ltd may see difficulties.

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