BOSTON (AP) -- Retailers expect a solid holiday shopping season in the Bay State.

The Retailers Association of Massachusetts is forecasting a 3.5 percent increase in sales over the holiday period compared to a year ago. The prediction, based on a survey of the group's 3,500 members, is slightly below a national forecast of 3.9 percent growth in holiday sales.

Association President Jon Hurst said Massachusetts retailers are cautiously optimistic based on the strongest consumer confidence levels since 2007.

But Hurst noted that the calendar offers six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas than a year ago, when retail sales showed a 2.8 percent increase over the previous year.

He said retailers plan to offer aggressive promotions and discounts from Black Friday -- the day after Thanksgiving -- right through Christmas Eve.


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