Americans feel confident about the economy and are expected to open their wallets wide this holiday season.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) expects that holiday sales over November and December will rise between about 4 and 5 percent above 2017 sales – beating the average 3.9 percent increase over the past five years.

Widespread optimism is driving this season’s expected holiday boom.

Last year, Americans anticipated tax cuts and reforms. This year, Americans have more take-home pay from the tax cuts, a strong jobs economy with abundant opportunities, and rising wages. Meanwhile, inflation is low. Add to that the recent fall in gas prices and we have the perfect an environment for big spending season.

Check out these eye-popping stats:

  • Expected holiday sales in 2018: $717.45 billion to $720.89 billion (4.3 and 4.8 percent over 2017)

  • Holiday sales in 2017: $687.87 billion, a 5.3 percent increase over the year before and the largest increase since the 5.2 percent year-over-year gain seen in 2010

  • $128 billion: November/December sales on food and beverages stores in 2017 (the largest category of spending)

NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz noted:

“With this year’s forecast, we continue to see strong momentum from consumers as they do the heavy lifting in supporting our economy. The combination of increased job creation, improved wages, tamed inflation and an increase in net worth all provide the capacity and the confidence to spend.”

Consumer spending was the big driver of 3.5 percent third-quarter economic growth and will likely keep economic performance strong at the end of the year.

For retailers, spending in November and December can comprise anywhere from a quarter to a third of annual sales or more. In anticipation, stores are staffing up hiring extra staff or luring good workers away from other stores and industries with greater pay and benefits.

Let the spending begin!