Retail Group Upgrades 2016 Economic Forecast

With increases in consumer spending expected to remain solid during the remainder of the year, the National Retail Federation today said retail sales for 2016 are now expected to grow 3.4 percent over last year rather than the 3.1 percent forecast earlier. Online and other non-store sales, which are included in the overall figure, are expected to increase 7-10 percent year-over-year rather than the 6-9 percent forecast earlier.

“Economic indicators are showing positive trends for retail,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay, citing the improved housing market, job growth, higher wages and other factors that have boosted consumer spending. “Challenges remain, with some greater than others depending on the retail category, but consumer confidence remains high and we believe that retail customers will continue the positive trends we have seen in the first two quarters of the year.”

Retail sales in the first half of 2016 performed at a solid pace, growing close to 4 percent on a year-over-year basis, according to NRF calculations, which exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants. NRF expects gross domestic product to grow between 1.9 and 2.4 percent.

“There are many factors that could prove to be hurdles but our overall outlook is optimistic,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Uncertainty surrounding the presidential election could make consumers more cautious, and the combination of a rising dollar and global slowdown have impacted exports, but other factors like favorable weather patterns that will help move winter merchandise support our outlook.”

NRF is watching economic developments closely and will evaluate any changes to its forecast as necessary. If needed, the next update to forecast will come as part of NRF’s annual holiday forecast in October.