NEW YORK: Sales growth during the US holiday season for 2013 is expected to be on a par with last year's 4.5%, with the nation's affluent households spending almost $28bn on gifts over the period, according to new surveys.

Deloitte's Retail & Distribution practice predicted that total holiday sales would climb to between $963bn and $967bn during the November to January holiday sales period, representing a 4% to 4.5% increase from 2012. It attributed this development to a gradually improving economy.

In addition, Deloitte anticipated that non-store sales would grow three times as fast as the category average, largely due to online shopping, although catalogues and interactive TV would also play a role.

Alison Paul, Deloitte Retail & Distribution sector leader noted that more shoppers were researching purchases electronically which was influencing in-store sales.

"More retailers are offering services such as 'buy online and pick up in store', as well as inventory from other locations and price matching on the spot," she said.

"The store is still a core element of holiday shopping," Paul continued, "and retailers leading the way this season will be those that effectively bring together their pricing, promotions, merchandise and inventory management across both their physical and digital storefronts."

Paul also pointed out the need for retailers to embrace mobile channels, which were expected to account for $66bn, or 8%, of retail store sales, as consumers using their smartphones were more likely to make a purchase compared with other shoppers in the store.

"These activities are contributing to sales and keeping a shopper from turning to a competitor, contrary to the concern that 'showrooming' and price checking could negatively affect sales," said Paul.

In a separate report, the American Affluence Research Center (AARC) surveyed the wealthiest 10% of US households and indicated that average expenditure for holiday gifts by the affluent would decline by about 2% to $2,513, although this was still around four times the gift expenditures of the average US household.

But it said the larger percentage of households buying gifts would offset the potential slight decline in average spending per household and result in 2.2% increase over the level of total 2012 spending.

Affluent females were looking forward to receiving money/gift cards (44%), clothing (31%), and fine jewelry/watch (33%). For affluent males, the top gift expectations were money/gift cards (46%) and clothing (40%).

Data sourced from PR Newswire, AARC; additional content by Warc staff