Banking & Finance

NRF Forecasts Retail Sales to Increase 4.1% in 2015

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation projects retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) will increase 4.1%, up from the 3.5% growth seen in 2014.

In its 2015 economic forecast, released Thursday, the trade organization said it expects non-store sales in 2015 to grow between 7% and 10%. The 4.1% increase overall would mark the biggest annual growth since 2011 when retail sales for the year increased 5.1%.

“The economy appears to finally have gained some real traction and after a somewhat turbulent 2014, we expect to see continued gains in economic activity in the year ahead,” said Jack Kleinhenz, the retail federation’s chief economist. “While Americans are benefiting from a pickup in wages and jobs and gains in the U.S. stock market, economic slack has been reduced. We still, however, have a ways to go in order to achieve sustainable economic growth. There are a few wild cards that the retailers will need to keep an eye on, such as global economic growth, energy prices and even inflation.”

Findings in the NRF’s 2015 economic forecast include:

  • A baseline outlook for growth in the economy as measured by GDP is expected to land between 2.7% and 3.2% over last year;
  • Growth in the labor market should average between 220,000 to 230,000 new jobs per month throughout the year;
  • Unemployment is expected to drop to 5% by year’s end;
  • Gains in equities and housing have boosted net worth to record levels, helping consumers feel more confident about household spending.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported Thursday that January retail sales decreased 0.8% over the previous month seasonally adjusted, and increased 3.3%t unadjusted year-over-year.

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries.

SOURCE: National Retail Federation.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.