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NRF revises sales forecast

Washington — Prompted by the war with Iraq, the National Retail Federation has dropped its 2003 forecast for GAFS sales to 3.8 percent growth from the original 5.6 percent it predicted earlier.

"The Iraqi conflict is hindering decisions made by both businesses and consumers," said Rosalind Wells, chief economist. "Not only are businesses taking a wait-and-see approach before making major financial commitments, they are reluctant to conduct business as usual, holding back hiring and causing layoffs of others."

Consumers are also cutting back, she added. "Consumers have had to dig deeper into their pocketbooks to pay for home heating bills and run their cards. As a result, disposable income has decreased and retail sales have suffered."

However, assuming a positive war outcome, consumer spending would improve significantly, she said.

NRF projects first quarter GAFS sales to increase slightly more than 2.0 percent, second quarter by 2.5 percent, third quarter sales by 4.7 percent and fourth quarter sales by 5.3 percent.

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