Holiday sales will increase 4.1 per cent this year.

The National Retail Federation reported Tuesday that retail sales for November and December will be above the 10-year average of 3.5 percent and rise to $586.1 billion.

“This is the most optimistic forecast NRF has released since the recession,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “In spite of uncertainties that exist in our economy and among consumers, we believe we’ll see solid holiday sales growth this year.”

Though buoyed by improving consumer confidence and rising home prices, the forecast is tempered by political and fiscal uncertainties of the upcoming election and policies enacted in Washington by the end of the year that could affect people’s pocketbooks.

Holiday sales in 2011 rose 5.6 percent.

“While moderate compared to what we experienced the last two holiday seasons, the forecast is a very pragmatic look at what to expect this year given the current rate of economic growth,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said.

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To meet the seasonal shopping rush, retailers are expected to hire between 585,000 and 625,000 holiday workers, which is comparable to the 607,500 seasonal employees hired last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

The world’s largest retail trade association bases its sales forecast on several indicators including consumer confidence, consumer credit, disposable personal income and previous monthly retail sales.

Holiday sales include most traditional retail categories, including non-store, auto parts and accessories stores, discounters, department stores, grocery stores and specialty stores. They exclude automotive dealers, gas stations and restaurants.

Non-store includes direct-to-consumer, kiosks and online sales. Online sales should grow 12 percent to $96 billion, according to shop.org.