Retail CFOs predict 5% sales growth for 2014

Despite ongoing market uncertainty, retail CFOs are feeling more confident about the state of the consumer.

According to a new BDO survey, retail CFOs forecast a 5.1 percent increase in total sales and a 4.8 percent increase in comparable store sales this year, marking a significant increase from the number expressing similar sentiments last year. A majority of CFOs (63 percent) indicate that they include online sales in their comparable sales projections, suggesting that some of this expected growth and optimism may be linked to the growing popularity of e-commerce.

"With consumer confidence gaining momentum, retail CFOs are relatively bullish about 2014 retail sales," says Doug Hart, partner in the retail and consumer products practice at BDO. "While concerns remain about unemployment and financial market volatility due to the Fed's pullback, they appear to be offset by the housing market recovery and less concern over Washington gridlock. Retailers are hoping that those factors will help boost consumer confidence in the coming year."

A majority of retailers (56 percent) say that they expect consumer confidence will increase in 2014, as confidence levels have recovered from their low in Fall 2013 following the government shutdown.

The forecast isn't all sunny, however. CFOs remain wary of impediments to confidence, particularly a weak jobs outlook, according to the survey. Personal credit availability and debt levels (18 percent) also continue to place pressure on consumers, and are collectively the second most-frequently cited factor by CFOs. This year, only 12 percent of CFOs surveyed said tax increases will be the top influencer of consumer confidence, a 50 percent decrease from 2013.

For more:
-See this press release

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