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by Laura Carroll

As the holiday shopping season nears, traditional retailers can expect single-digit increases in sales and traffic, with online sales increases jumping into the double digits.

The National Retail Federation is forecasting holiday sales to increase 4.1 percent this year to $586.1 billion, tempered by political and fiscal uncertainties but supported by signs of improvement in consumer confidence. 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,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said.

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