If expectations become reality, this year's fourth quarter could turn out to be the strongest of the last four years. According to a report released Wednesday from the International Council of Shopping Centers, retailers are far more optimistic about holiday season revenue this year than during the previous two years.

About 55% or retail-industry members expect 2010 holiday season sales to top last year's, with 3.5% forecasting that revenue would be much higher, according to the ICSC. Only about a third of respondents last year expected higher holiday sales, while a mere 2.9% of those polled in 2008 said holiday sales would increase from a year earlier, the ICSC reported.

Retailers are hoping that recent gross domestic product figures portend an upswing in holiday sales. The U.S. Commerce Department said last week that GDP grew 2% during the third quarter, in line with economists' expectations, while consumer spending increased at a 2.6% annual pace in the quarter, its fastest growth since the fourth quarter of 2006 and up from 2.2% in the second quarter.

With such sales momentum, the ICSC estimated that the 2010 holiday season sales would be the biggest since 2006.


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