NRF Projection: Moderate Retail Growth In 2016

Few pundits are projecting a blockbuster year for retail sales, and while the latest news from the National Retail Foundation might not make a bold statement with its projections, it could, at the very least, reassure merchants who see the sky falling.

The NRF announced its 2015 economic forecast on Wednesday (Feb. 10), and the estimates show a 3.1 percent growth rate for retail sales in 2016. This represents an improvement over the 10-year average of 2.7 percent. The picture is even rosier for non-store sales, with growth falling anywhere from 6 to 9 percent by the time 2017 rolls around.

Matthew Shay, president and CEO at NRF, explained that while the numbers might not be what retailers want to see right now, they’re an indication that those ideal sales estimates are only a few years away.

“Wage stagnation is easing, jobs are being created and consumer confidence remains steady, so despite the headwinds our economy faces from international developments — particularly in China — we think 2016 will be favorable for growth in the retail industry,” Shay said in a statement. “All of the experts agree that the consumer is in the driver’s seat and steering our economic recovery. The best thing the government can do is stay out of the way, stop proposing rules and regulations that create hurdles toward greater capital investment and focus on policies that help retailers provide increased income and job stability for their employees.”

The NRF also noted that 2016 has all the indications of being an excellent year for job growth. Around 190,000 new employees will be added to the workforce every month, with total unemployment projected to fall to 4.6 percent by year’s end — a function of the U.S. economy, which is also expected to grow between 1.9 percent and 2.4 percent in 2016.

Now, retailers can replace their anxieties about low sales projections with anxieties that the moderately encouraging estimates won’t hold.


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