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March 17, 2022

US retail sales could hit $4.95 trillion in 2022

US retail sales are expected to grow between 6-8% in 2022 with the National Retail Federation (NRF) anticipating durable growth this year, notwithstanding risks related to inflation, Covid, and geopolitical threats.

By Beth Wright

Issuing its annual forecast, NRF said it expects retail sales will reach more than US$4.86 trillion in 2022. The announcement was made during NRF’s annual State of Retail & the Consumer virtual event where retail industry leaders discussed the strength of the consumer economy and the future of retail.

“NRF expects retail sales to increase in 2022, as consumers are ready to spend and have the resources to do so,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “We should see durable growth this year given consumer confidence to continue this expansion, notwithstanding risks related to inflation, Covid-19 and geopolitical threats.”

NRF forecasts that 2022 retail sales will total between $4.86 trillion and $4.95 trillion. The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants. Non-store and online sales year-over-year, which are included in the total figure, are expected to grow between 11-13% to a range of $1.17 trillion to $1.19 trillion as consumers continue to utilise e-commerce.

The 2022 figure compares with 14% annual growth rate in 2021, the highest growth rate in more than 20 years. This year’s sales forecast is notably above the ten-year, pre-pandemic growth rate of 3.7%.

NRF anticipates strong job and wage growth and declining unemployment. The organisation 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.

Retail sales are expected to remain strong as the economy opens further in the coming months, but there is considerable uncertainty this year that NRF will continue to monitor closely.

“Most households have never experienced anything like this level of inflation, and it is expected to remain elevated well into 2023,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “In addition to inflation, the forces impacting the economy include COVID-19 impacts, international tensions and policy variability.”

Kleinhenz added that although a roller coaster ride of incoming data is expected in the next few months, consumer fundamentals remain in place. Household finances are healthy and strong job and wage growth should support solid growth for consumer spending for 2022.

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