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February 12, 2018updated 12 Apr 2021 2:30pm

US retail sales set to grow up to 4.4% this year

US retail sales are forecast to grow between 3.8% and 4.4% in 2018, thanks to high consumer confidence, low unemployment, and growing wages, new figures show.

By Beth Wright

US retail sales are forecast to grow between 3.8% and 4.4% in 2018, thanks to high consumer confidence, low unemployment, and growing wages, new figures show.

The projected increase from the National Retail Federation (NRF), which excludes automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, is above the 3.9% growth in 2017 over 2016 to $3.53trn, according to the US Census bureau’s preliminary estimate for the year. The number is subject to revision but exceeded NRF’s forecast for growth between 3.2% and 3.8%.

Meanwhile, online and other non-store sales, which are included in the overall number, are expected to increase between 10% and 12%.

“A robust holiday season for retail sales is just one of many barometers that points to a consumer that is clearly feeling positive about their financial health,” says NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “Despite headlines to the contrary, the retail industry is strong, growing and meeting consumer demand with the products they want at the prices they expect and the shopping experience they want to have, online or in store. With consumer confidence high, unemployment low and wages growing, there is every reason to believe that retail sales will be robust throughout the year.”

NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz adds that while the push and pull of forces both external and internal to the US economy will continue to provide challenges, on balance the NRF expects a good year.

“And as the retail industry continues to transform, retailers will leverage the new tax plan to invest in their employees, stores and new formats that engage with the ever-evolving and demanding consumer,” he says.

In addition, the overall economy is expected to gain an average of 163,000 jobs a month, down slightly from 2017 but consistent with labour market growth, while unemployment is expected to drop to 3.9% by the end of the year.

Gross domestic product growth is likely to be in the range of 2.5% to 3%.

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