Retailers are bracing for what could be a profitable holiday shopping season, despite a great deal of uncertainty. The National Retail Federation expects holiday sales this year to increase 4.1 percent to $586.1 billion.

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The forecast is higher than the ten-year holiday sales increase of 3.5 percent. Actual holiday sales in 2011 grew 5.6 percent.

"This is the most optimistic forecast NRF has released since the recession. In spite of the uncertainties that exist in our economy and among consumers, we believe we'll see solid holiday sales growth this year," said National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay. "Our forecast is below actual sales from the previous year, but we don't consider that a bad holiday season. In fact, we think Santa's helpers are going to be on the hook for some overtime this holiday season. Variables including an upcoming presidential election, confusion surrounding the 'fiscal cliff' and concern relating to future economic growth could all combine to affect consumers' spending plans, but overall we are optimistic that retailers promotions will hit the right chord with holiday shoppers." released its 2012 online holiday sales forecast, expecting sales to grow 12 percent over last holiday season to as much as $96 billion.

"Much of the growth we expect to see in our forecast over what we've seen in previous years is really due to the popularity of mobile and tablet devices," said Shay. "Mobile devices in particular will play a very important role this holiday shopping season as stores look for ways to enhance mobile shopping, in-store experiencing. So, they will be embracing this proliferation of devices and embracing the fact that this is the way customers want to shop and looking at it as an opportunity rather than as a competitive threat. We'll also see things like instant text messages being sent to shoppers offering coupons and discounts."

"From the data we've seen, we're going to move to a completely integrated shopping experience," said Shay. "We expect the season to be much bigger than in previous years for digital retail as the evolution of the industry continues."