msnbc   |  November 22, 2012

$586 billion holiday shopping boost expected for economy

The National Retail Federation predicts a 4.1% rise in retail sales this holiday season. Forbes’ Morgan Brennan joins Alex Witt to discuss.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> as the zealous shoppers are hitting the retailers tonight, they'll give the economy a much-needed boost. holiday sales should grow by 4% bringing in $586 billion -- yeah, billion with a "b" -- dollars this year. morgan brennan from forbes. happy thanksgiving.

>> happy thanksgiving.

>> how badly does the economy need this boost right now?

>> i guess that's the $586 billion question. yes, of course, our economy has been starting to slow down. we saw 2% growth in the third quarter. going back to president bush after 2001 when he told americans to go out and do more shopping, that, actually there's something to that concept. the reason is because gdp is -- consumer spending is about 70% of gdp.

>> only problem with spending, though, a lot of people put things on their credit cards , and that is up by about a third, in the third quarter it went up about 5%. there's good and bad to that. ultimately does it show signs of a robust economy?

>> i would say yes, in the sense that more americans are expected to go out and spend this weekend, this holiday in general. $586 billion is projected, as you mentioned before. the americans that will go out and spend are expected to spend $750 on average. it's a little higher than last year. so i think they're doing that because they're feeling a little more confident. they're also doing that because they feel like they can get good deals. i think that's pretty hopeful. that being said, we still have issues looming on this fiscal cliff. we're starting to see consumer confidence weighing a little bit. i think hurricane sandy had something to do with that.

>> yeah.

>> this could go either way this season.

>> you combine the holiday spending with the fiscal cliff. is there a chance that if we get this $586 billion or whatever is expected to come in, that it has a lasting effect on the economy?

>> you know, i think -- i would like to say yes. and given holiday -- looking at last year, we saw about 600,000 jobs added for the holiday. about that number is expected this year as well. jobs are good for the economy. spending is good for the economy. but whether we can maintain that, whether a deal can be reached on that cliff remains to be seen. we could see of the u.s. fall into recession. hopefully that won't be the case. hopefully, you know, a deal will be reached and we can move forward.

>> that's probably the most pressing issue right now. morgan, thank you for bringing us up to date on the retail angle.