The National Retail Foundation (NRF) says its retail sales forecast for 2014 predicts growth of 4.1%, excluding restaurants, gas stations and automobile sales.
An increase from a preliminary estimate of 3.7% growth in 2013.
Online sales are expected to increase by between 9% and 12% this year, the NRF added.
“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.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.”
“As the industry tackles important issues in 2014, such as immigration and tax reform, we will continue to push our nation’s leaders to support policies that promote growth and create jobs for hard-working Americans.”
Most economic figures pointing towards healthy growth
The NRF made the following predictions when preparing the Retail sales forecast for 2014:
- The NRF expects economic growth to exceed its long-term historical average. According to early estimates, real GDP (gross domestic product) growth should be between 2.6% and 3%, a significant increase compared to 2013’s more modest 1.9%; the fastest growth in three years.
- Employment figures are expected to continue improving, with 185,000 new jobs being filled each month. Unemployment is forecast to fall to 6.5% or even lower by the end of this year.
- Consumer price index (CPI) inflation will probably increase to 1.7% in 2014.
- An improved housing sector plus stronger household and business confidence should boost overall consumer spending.
NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz:
“The economy remains susceptible to buffets as we are already witnessing in the New Year, thanks to harsh winter weather, domestic and global financial issues.”
“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.”
(Source: NRF Foundation)
Retail sales fell in January
The US Department of Commerce reported that January retail sales fell in comparison to December. In a month of abnormally severe weather, consumers ventured out of their homes much less and consequently their spending on eating out, clothing, general shopping and automobiles declined. The pace of job growth also appears to have slowed down in December and January.