A strong economy and a confident consumer should help fuel retail sales gains of 3.8-4.4 percent this year, the National Retail Federation (NRF) projected.
Business will continue to be even more robust for online and other direct-sellers, who can expect to see sales increase 10-12 percent, the trade association said.
Driving the increases are wage and job growth, continued low unemployment, and a 2.5-3 percent increase in gross domestic product growth this year, NRF noted.
The report mirrors the projections of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which foresees a 3.9 percent increase in sales of electronics products this year, to a record $351 billion. Unit volume is expected to tick up 6.6 percent, to some 715 million tech items, driven by strong demand for smart speakers, smart-home and VR products, drones, and wearables, the trade group said at CES.
The rosy retail forecasts follows a robust 2017, when sales grew 3.9 percent to $3.5 trillion according to the U.S. Census Bureau – and that’s excluding auto dealers, gas stations and restaurants.
“A robust holiday season for retail sales is just one of many barometers that points to a consumer that is clearly feeling positive about their financial health,” said NRF president/CEO Matthew Shay. “Despite headlines to the contrary, the retail industry is strong, growing and meeting consumer demand with the products they want at the prices they expect and the shopping experience they want to have, online or in store.”
“There is every reason to believe that retail sales will be robust throughout the year,” Shay added.