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NRF retail growth forecast mostly rosy

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Washington – While cautioning against some drag from inflation, especially among lower income consumers, and global fallout from the war in Ukraine, the National Retail Federation (NRF) expects healthy retail growth this year.

The retail organization expects annual retail sales to grow from 6% to 8% this year, down from last year’s record-setting 14% growth but well ahead of the pre-pandemic average of 3.7%. The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants in order to focus on core retail.

“We should see durable growth this year given consumer confidence to continue this expansion, notwithstanding risks related to inflation, Covid-19 and geopolitical threats,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay.

The announcement was made during NRF’s annual State of Retail & the Consumer virtual event, during which retail industry leaders discussed the strength of the consumer economy and the future of retail.

Key takeaways include:

  • Total 2022 retail sales are expected to total between $4.86 trillion and $4.95 trillion.
  • Non-store and online sales year-over-year, which are included in the total figure, are expected to grow between 11% and 13% to a range of $1.17 trillion to $1.19 trillion.
  • NRF anticipates strong job and wage growth and declining unemployment.
  • The organization projects full-year GDP growth will be slower this year, around 3.5%, given the surge of inflation and tightening of monetary policy and less fiscal stimulus.
  • Inflation is not expected to cool down until the Fed reaches its targeted 2% rate sometime in 2023.

Despite encouraging fundamentals, NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz warned that consumers and the economy face “considerable” uncertainty.

“Most households have never experienced anything like this level of inflation, and it is expected to remain elevated well into 2023,” he added. “In addition to inflation, the forces impacting the economy include Covid-19 impacts, international tensions and policy variability.”

Nonetheless, U.S. household finances remain healthy and NRF expects strong job and wage growth. The retail organization also sees more consumer spend this year shifting from goods to services, he said.



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