Following 2018 when retail sales grew 4.6%, the National Retail Federation is expecting another strong year.
Despite issues including the U.S./China trade war, a volatile stock market and the effects of the government shutdown, the NRF is forecasting sales to increase between 3.8% and 4.4%.
“We believe the underlying state of the economy is sound,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “More people are working, they’re making more money, their taxes are lower and their confidence remains high. The biggest priority is to ensure that our economy continues to grow and to avoid self-inflicted wounds. It’s time for artificial problems like trade wars and shutdowns to end, and to focus on prosperity, not politics.”
Growth of between 3.8% and 4.4% would result in total 2019 retail sales of between $3.82 trillion and $3.84 trillion. Based on growth of between 10% and 12%, online sales would total between $751.1 billion and $764.8 billion, which are included in the total.
“We are not seeing any deterioration in the financial health of the consumer,” said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist. “Consumers are in better shape than any time in the last few years. Most important for the year ahead will be the ongoing strength in the job market, which will support the consumer income and spending that are both key drivers of the economy.”
Kleinhenz said inflation and interest rates are expected to remain low this year and that retail sales have been helped by recent reductions in gasoline prices.