The National Retail Federation (NRF) announced that it has revised its holiday sales forecast as a result of a recent flurry of healthy economic indicators including strong October retail sales and falling gasoline prices. NRF now expects total holiday retail sales to increase 6.0% over last year to $439.53 billion. This marks the first time that NRF has ever officially upgraded its forecast during the holiday season. NRF had previously forecast a 5.0% sales gain on September 21.

“Recent consumer spending has surpassed our expectations and we expect this momentum to continue through the holiday season,” said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin. “Though our forecast remains cautious, we are confident that the holiday sales increase will be better than we originally anticipated.”

In October, retail industry sales rose 7.2% year-over-year, following strong 7.2% year-over-year growth in September. The holiday season is the most important time of year for the retail industry as companies see one-fifth of retail industry sales occur in the months of November and December.

“As gasoline prices decrease, consumers are finding a little extra padding in their budgets,” said NRF Chief Economist Rosalind Wells. “Nearly every retail category has seen strong sales growth in the past few months, indicating that retailers will see positive gains as consumers continue to spend this holiday season.”