German retailers expect the strong growth in sales during the Christmas shopping season to be extended into 2011 because underlying conditions are good, a leader of the HDE retail industry association said on Thursday.

HDE managing director Stefan Genth said in an interview with Reuters that turnover is expected to grow by 1 to 2 percent next year even though the association does not have a concrete forecast yet.

The conditions are right, Genth said, referring to low unemployment, rising wages and strong economic growth. Christmas holiday sales are expected to rise by 2.5 percent to 77 billion euros during the November-December period.

That's not absolutely the strongest Christmas but it's a big leap forward, he said, referring to the strong recovery this year after the recession of 2008/09 hit demand.

Genth said the final shopping week of the year after Christmas would be the strongest in 2010. This week will be the strongest for retailers in the whole year, Genth said. He said 45 percent of the retailers were very satisfied with the 2010 season so far -- a big jump from 2009.

The first two weekends of December were especially strong with the third and fourth slightly weaker. Many shops benefited from the harsh winter weather conditions because it drove many shoppers inside where it was warm, he said.

Retail sales fell by 2 percent in 2009 but were up 1.5 percent in the January-October period this year, HDE said.

(Reporting by Christina Amann; writing by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Toby Chopra)