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NRF: retail forecast is improving
February 24th, 2014
WASHINGTON – Retail sales in the United States will increase by 4.1% in 2014, up from last year’s preliminary rise of 3.7%, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said in an economic forecast. Online sales are predicted to grow by between 9% and 12%.
The NRF report foresees U.S. economic growth of between 2.6% and 3% this year, exceeding its long-term historical average and contributing to a healthier job market, continued gains in home prices and a more optimistic consumer.
"Measured improvements in economic growth combined with positive expectations for consumer spending will put the retail industry in a relatively good place in 2014," NRF president and chief executive officer Matthew Shay said on February 6 in releasing the full-year forecast. "Though headwinds — in the form of the looming debt-ceiling debates, increased health care costs and regulatory concerns — still pose risks for both consumers and retailers, we are cautiously optimistic and hopeful that the economic tides will change in 2014."
Sales of automobiles, gasoline and restaurant meals are not included in the forecast. The NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discounters, department stores, home-goods purveyors, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers in more than 45 countries.
The NRF’s forecast is in line with findings from a recent survey of retail chief financial officers. The industry’s CFOs see sales rising 5.1% this year, according to the BDO USA survey, with sales at stores open at least a year gaining 4.8%. Nearly two-thirds of the CFOs include online sales in their comparable-sales projections.
Forty of the 100 CFOs surveyed said head counts would increase at their companies, notwithstanding planned layoffs associated with shrinking brick-and-mortar presences. The BDO researchers interpreted this as an indication that these retailers are expecting to bolster their e-commerce capabilities, including online customer support personnel and warehouse workers, rather than hiring to support in-store operations.
The financial chiefs are split over whether workers will be paid more in 2014, with 46% seeing average compensation per employee rising and 55% predicting it will hold steady.