Retailers can look forward to an uptick in sales this holiday season, according to a new study.

Deloitte's latest retail holiday sales forecast is projecting as much as $965 billion in sales between November and January, a 4 percent increase over last year's shopping season (excluding motor vehicles and gas). The expected increase in retail activity follows several months of rising U.S. consumer spending. Deloitte’s forecast is based on an evaluation of factors influencing consumer spending and sentiment and retail sales results from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

What's driving the trend?

Deloitte cited the improving labor market, increasing home values and lower gas prices as helping contribute to improved consumer sentiment. Despite the optimistic outlook, the increase in spending is expected to fall short of last year's gain of 5.2 percent.

Non-store sales transacted online and in mail order channels are expected to rise as much as 9 percent this year, according to the study. Digital interactions over desktop and laptop computers, tablets and smartphones are expected to influence 64 percent of retail stores this holiday season, equivalent to $434 billion.

Though more than 90 percent of retail sales occur in-store, nearly 80 percent of shoppers say they engage with brands and retailers through digital channels before they set foot inside a store, according to Rod Sides, who heads up Deloitte's retail and distribution sector.

Published on: Sep 23, 2015