2017 U.S. retail sales projected to increase 4% despite consumer uncertainty
U.S retailers had a very sluggish start to 2017. Many retailers and companies posted soft holiday sales heading into the year, and many notable retailers cut jobs and closed stores as a result. Despite the shaky start to 2017, retail sales this year are projected to exceed 2016’s numbers.
The National Retail Federation released on Wednesday its economic forecast for 2017, projecting that retail industry sales, excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants, will grow 3.7% to 4.2% over 2016. Online and other non-store online sales, which are included in the overall number, are expected to increase between 8% and 12%.
“The economy is on firm ground as we head into 2017 and is expected to build on the momentum we saw late last year,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “With jobs and income growing and debt relatively low, the fundamentals are in place and the consumer is in the driver’s seat. But this year is unlike any other – while consumers have strength they haven’t had in the past, they will remain hesitant to spend until they have more certainty about policy changes on taxes, trade and other issues being debated in Congress.”
Uncertainty has loomed over consumers in the U.S. since President Trump has taken office. Trade show Kingpins on February 9 is hosting a panel discussion about Trump’s impact on the apparel and textile industry, one of the first events to address the current political climate and its effect on the industry.
Trump discussed plans to exit NAFTA and the TPP, which could have potentially harmful effects on prices and spending. Shay added, “Lawmakers should take note and stand firm against any policies, rules or regulations that would increase the cost of everyday goods for American consumers.”
The NRF report also projects the economy to gain an average of 160,000 jobs per month, which is a decrease from 2016 but it remains consistent with labor market growth. Unemployment is expected to fall to 4.6% by the end of the year, and economic growth is expected to range from 1.9% to 2.4%.
The forecasts do not take into account new fiscal measures pending in Washington.
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