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With uptick in economy, NRF reboots annual forecast

Washington – Seeing evidence pointing to improved consumer confidence, the National Retail Federation today raised its forecast for this year’s all-important second half.

NRF calculated that sales grew 2.9% during the first half of the year and are projected to grow at least 3.9% during the second half. These figures include general retail sales and non-store sales, and exclude automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants.

NRF had originally projected retail sales to grow 4.1% this year over 2013, but lowered it after the slow first quarter. The latest revision puts the forecast for 2014 growth at 3.6%, with sales expected to rev up over the next five months.

“No retailer was immune to the doldrums witnessed during the first quarter, and as a result, the year’s growth trajectory was impacted,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and ceo. “That said, there is plenty of evidence that the second half of the year will be better for the industry as consumers begin to feel more optimistic about their spending decisions.  

He added that while NRF maintains “realistic expectations” 2014, the organization is at the same time “optimistic that the chances for a stronger economy still exist.”

Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist, said: “The severe weather and other factors we experienced earlier this year have taken their toll on retail, but most of those problems are behind us. A second look at our forecast shifted our expectations slightly, but it’s important to note that the outlook is positive. Sales are growing and we expect them to continue at a moderate pace.”

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