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NRF projects mild growth of 4.7% in 2006

New York -- The National Retail Federation (NRF) today predicted that 2006 retail industry sales will increase 4.7 percent from last year. In 2005 retail sales were up 6.1 percent, somewhat higher than the 5.6 percent gain NRF had forecast.

In the year ahead tough comparisons, rising energy costs and a slowdown in the housing market are expected to take some of the steam out of sales. “With the housing market beginning to slow, consumers will be challenged to find new sources of spending power,” said NRF Chief Economist Rosalind Wells. “The strong retail sales we saw in the second half of 2005 will be replaced by more conservative spending in the New Year.”

The NRF expects 2006 first quarter retail sales to increase 5.0 percent, compared to gains of 6.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2005. The organization pointed to several retail categories (home was not among them) where it expects relatively strong business in 2006: clothing and fashion accessories, food and beverage, health and personal care.

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