WASHINGTON — The National Retail Foundation on Tuesday said it was expecting the slowest holiday retail sales season since 2002 and said that gift cards could be among the items under pressure. In a conference call discussing its forecast for 2.2% overall sales gain for retail this season — well below the survey’s 10-year average of 4.4% growth and the lowest since a 1.3% gain in 2002 — Scott Krugman, vice president of the NRF, said grim economic conditions and the likelihood of retailers deeply discounting merchandise could make gift cards fall from favor as a shopper option this year. “The question [about gift cards] is, is it a viable gift to give if people are shopping on a budget? Do you give a $50 gift card, or do you give a $50 sweater that’s 40% off?” Krugman asked. He predicted luxury retailers could feel a pinch as shoppers gravitate toward discounters and warehouse clubs.
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