The National Retail Federation (NRF) forecasts retail industry sales will grow between 3.8 and 4.4 percent year-over-year, according to its 2018 economic forecast. Online and other nonstore sales, which are included in the overall number, are expected to increase between 10 percent and 12 percent. The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants. Retail sales grew 3.9 percent in 2017 to $3.53 trillion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s preliminary estimate for the year. The number is subject to revision but exceeded NRF’s forecast for growth between 3.2 and 3.8 percent. Additional insights from NRF's economic forecast include the following:
- The overall economy is expected to gain an average of 163,000 jobs a month, down slightly from 2017 but consistent with labor market growth.
- Unemployment is expected to drop to 3.9 percent by the end of the year.
- Gross domestic product growth is likely to be in the range of 2.5 percent to 3 percent.
“A robust holiday season for retail sales is just one of many barometers that points to a consumer that's clearly feeling positive about their financial health,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay, in a statement.
Total Retail's Take: The NRF's 2018 forecast follows an encouraging holiday season for many retailers. Department stores and a slew of specialty brands ended 2017 on a high note when compared with the year prior. What's more, companies are also still announcing plans for how they will use anticipated savings from new tax legislation. Bonuses, wage hikes and sweetened benefits are being offered to some part- and full-time retail employees already, but the start of 2018 has also brought news of store closures and job cuts across the U.S.