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What's the Deal consumer headlines: Record-breaking holiday retail sales expected; Costco raises employee wages - again

And for the first time in two decades, sales of cigarettes are on the rise.

INDIANAPOLIS — Here's Allison Gormly's "What's the Deal?" consumer headlines for Wednesday, Oct. 27:

Costco again hikes employee wages

Costco is raising employee wages to $17 an hour.

It's the second time this year the retailer hiked workers' pay. In February, the company raised pay to $16 an hour.

The pay bump is about $2 above Amazon, Target and other top retailers.

Rare rise in sales of tobacco products

Cigarette sales went up for the first time in 20 years.

The uptick happened last year during the pandemic, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

It was a slight increase - 0.4 percent - selling 203.7 billion in 2020 compared to 202.9 billion in 2019.

Holiday forecast: Record-setting retail sales

The holiday shopping season ahead is expected to break some sales records.

The National Retail Federation expects holiday sales during November and December to rise between 8.5 and 10.5 percent.

In terms of dollars, it means sales ranging from $843 billion to $859 billion. 

The NRF president said consumers are in a favorable position going into the last few months of the year, as income is rising and household balance sheets have never been stronger.

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