The National Retail Federation anticipates “continued, measured growth” in retail sales this year, as much of the issues that caused volatility in 2013 have been resolved.
The NRF is predicting a 4.1 percent increase in retail sales this year, up from the 3.7 percent (preliminary number) growth that was seen in 2013. The organization also expects online sales in 2014 to grow between 9 and 12 percent, in line with the 2013 growth of 10.3 percent.
“Measured improvements in economic growth combined with positive expectations for continued consumer spending will put the retail industry in a relatively good place in 2014,” says Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer, NRF. “Though headwinds in the form of the looming debt ceiling debates, increased health care costs, and regulatory concerns still pose risks for both consumers and retailers, we are cautiously optimistic and hopeful that the economic tides will change in 2014.”
Among the factors that formed the basis of the NRF’s economic forecast are general economic growth, modest recovery in the labor market, slightly higher inflation and an improving housing sector, all of which will serve to boost consumer confidence.
Economic growth in 2014 is expected to be above the long-term historical average with early estimates suggesting that real GDP could fall between 2.6 and 3 percent, a noticeable improvement from the estimated 1.9 percent rate for 2013, and the fastest pace in the past three years.
“The economy remains susceptible to buffets as we are already witnessing in the New Year, thanks to harsh winter weather and domestic and global financial issues,” says Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist, NRF. “While we are careful not to ignore the challenges, we are optimistic and hopeful that future disruptions will be limited, allowing employment and business investment to grow all the while giving retailers and their customers the confidence in the economy they need.”