- Associated Press - Thursday, November 17, 2016

BOSTON (AP) - Retailers around the state are expecting another solid holiday shopping season.

The Retailers Association of Massachusetts on Thursday forecast a 3.9 percent increase in retail sales during the holiday period, as compared to a year ago.

The forecast, based on a survey of about 4,000 members of the organization, is slightly higher than the projected national holiday sales increase of 3.6 percent. But it would be lower than the 4.7 percent sales growth Massachusetts reported during the 2015 holiday season.

The association’s president, Jon Hurst, said consumer confidence remains strong, driven by factors including low unemployment, rising wages and continued low gas prices.

Hurst says seasonal hiring by retail stores is expected to be on par with a year ago, while inventory levels are expected to be higher.

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