NRF optimistically predicts 4.1% sales increase for 2014

The National Retail Federation released its 2014 economic forecast today, projecting retail industry sales (excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) will increase 4.1 percent, up from the preliminary 3.7 percent growth seen in 2013. NRF also announced today it expects online sales in 2014 to grow between 9 and 12 percent.

"Measured improvements in economic growth combined with positive expectations for continued consumer spending will put the retail industry in a relatively good place in 2014," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. "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.

The NRF expects economic growth to be above its long-term historical average. Early estimates as measured by real GDP could fall between 2.6 and 3 percent, a noticeable improvement from the estimated 1.9 percent rate for 2013, and the fastest pace in the past three years.

The labor market is expected to continue its modest recovery averaging approximately 185,000 jobs per month and the housing sector is expected to continue to improve in 2014. Stronger household and business confidence should spur more consumer spending overall, in spite of an expected uptick in inflation by as much as 1.7 percent.   
"The economy remains susceptible to buffets as we are already witnessing in the New Year, thanks to harsh winter weather, domestic and global financial issues," said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. "While we are careful not to ignore the challenges, we are optimistic and hopeful that future disruptions will be limited, allowing employment and business investment to grow all the while giving retailers and their customers the confidence in the economy they need."

For more:
-See this National Retail Federation press release

Related stories:
NRF: Retail spending for Super Bowl will hit record high
U.S. consumer confidence rebounds in December
November retail sales beat estimates, jump most in 5 months
Retail sales slump ahead of Christmas, year-end shopping expected to be big
Michael Kors, Sprouts, Lululemon are growing sales fastest, says NRF survey