Washington—Will the stronger sales most retailers experienced for holiday continue this year? With the U.S. economy gaining traction, The National Retail Federation today released its 2015 economic forecast today, projecting retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) will increase 4.1%*, up from the 3.5% growth seen in 2014.
NRF also announced today it expects non-store (Internet) sales in 2015 to grow between 7% and 10%. The 4.1%increase would mark the biggest annual growth since 2011 when retail sales for the year increased 5.1%.
Strongest Since 2011?
“Already facing far fewer obstacles than this time last year in terms of growth opportunities, retailers are optimistic about the potential that exists for healthy growth in retail sales and consumer engagement in 2015,” said NRF/CEO Matthew Shay.
“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 NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “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, like global economic growth, energy prices and even inflation.”
Additional economic insights from the National Retail Federation include:
- A baseline outlook for growth in the economy as measured by GDP is expected to land between 2.7% and 3.2%;
- 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.
Additionally, January retail sales released today by NRF, which excludes automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, increased 0.2% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 3.7 unadjusted year-over-year. Today’s results confirm holiday sales growth of 4%.
“While our outlook for the year ahead is positive, we aren’t quite out of the woods; in order to see continued momentum we need a commitment from our leaders in Washington to pass legislation that will encourage investment, create jobs and set us on the path towards sustained, long-term economic growth,” Shay noted.
The U.S. Commerce Department reported today that January retail sales decreased 0.8% over the previous month seasonally adjusted, and increased 3.3% unadjusted year-over-year.
*Retail industry sales according to NRF include most traditional retail categories including auto parts and accessories stores, non-store categories, discounters, department stores, grocery stores, and specialty stores, and exclude sales at automotive dealers, gas stations, and restaurants.