In the wake of reports that the holiday shopping season is off to a torrid start, sentiments are high at the annual ICSC New York National Conference and Dealmaking.

The show is the second largest gathering of retail real estate pros aside from the annual RECon show in Las Vegas every May. Advance numbers indicated that attendance at this year’s show would end up around 6,000—matching last year’s total. But the mood is decidedly more optimistic than it was at the event the last two years.

“The bottom line is that the worst is behind us,” said Dana Telsey, CEO and chief research officer with New York-based Tesley Advisory Group. Telsey, along with Telsey analyst Joseph Feldman, spoke at the event’s general session. The two said they had surveyed 25 top retailers on their Black Friday sales and thoughts on the season and found that the overwhelming tone from those conversations was that “It feels better.”

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