NRF forecast upbeat for 2014

Retail Editor 2, February 6, 2014

Washington D.C. - Envisioning deliberate growth in the economy and higher consumer spending, the National Retail Federation today released an encouraging 2014 forecast that calls for solid growth in retail and online sales this year.

NRF said it is projecting total retail industry sales - excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants - to increase 4.1%, up from the preliminary 3.7% growth seen in 2013. It expects online sales to grow between 9% and 12%.

"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 Matthew Shay, NRF president and ceo. "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.

Key factors influencing the forecast include:

  • Economic growth above its long-term historical average. Early estimates for growth in the economy as measured by real GDP could range from 2.6% to 3% - "a noticeable improvement from the estimated 1.9% rate for 2013, and the fastest pace in the past three years," according to NRF.
  • Ongoing and modest recovery in the labor market at an average pace of approximately 185,000 jobs per month, which could bring unemployment to near 6.5% or lower by the end of 2014.
  • Inflation as measured by the CPI predicted to inch higher to as much as 1.7% in 2014.
  • Continued improvement in the housing section - "and stronger household and business confidence should spur more consumer spending overall," NRF added.

NRF outlined several initiatives retailers are pursuing to boost business. They include:

  • Using logistics to shorten the time and distance between order and delivery of goods and services;
  • Expanding geo-targeting to deliver offers at point of purchase that spur sales;
  • Upgrading mobile purchase capabilities;
  • Developing "innovation labs" to deliver more innovation to the customer;
  • Increasing "name your own price" options and tools;
  • Enhancing product assortments with more curated and unique merchandise.




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