The holidays are expected to bring only a modest cheer to business owners this year. Holiday retail sales are expected to grow by only 2.8 percent, according to the National Retail Federation. ShopperTrak and IBISWorld estimate sales growth at 3 percent. In this week's TrendWatch, Inc.com's Allison Fass talks with retail strategist Alison Levy, of Kurt Salmon, about what retailers can expect from the American consumer through Thanksgiving and Christmas. Watch the video to find out her advice for small business owners.

In TrendWatch Facts & Figures, a closer look at the holiday retail forecast:

1. Growing at 2.8 precent, holiday sales are expected to reach about $465.6 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. In comparison, last year holiday sales rose 5.2 percent.

2. As far as job growth, 2010 and 2011 are looking fairly equal. Between 480,000 and 500,000 seasonal workers are projected to be hired in 2011, compared to 495,000 last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

3. The holidays are a crucial part of the retail year. They typically account for 20 percent of annual sales, according to ShopperTrak, which research consumer habit and retailers. For small businesses, that percentage is often even higher.

4. The average American will spend $712 on Christmas gifts this year, a Gallup poll predicts. That compares to a $715 forecast last year, $801 in 2010, and $909 in 2008.