NRF forecasts retail sales growth of 3.1 per cent in 2016

NEW YORK, N.Y. – The National Retail Federation is forecasting retail spending growth of 3.1 per cent in 2016, a slowdown from the group’s annual estimate a year ago.

The country’s largest retail trade industry group had forecast growth of 4.1 per cent for 2015, then revised that figure down to 3.5 per cent over the summer after slower-than-expected sales.

Despite the more modest forecast for this year, the NRF says the uptick would top the 10-year average of growth of 2.7 per cent. Online, mobile and catalogue sales are expected to rise 6 to 9 per cent, fueling growth.

With wage stagnation and unemployment easing, NRF CEO Matthew Shay said “there are a lot of positives in the economy.” The group noted that an increase in jobs translates to an increase in spending.

But Shay also noted that economic volatility could make people feel uncertain about the future, and inhibit spending. And NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz also noted that people are spending more on services

The group’s annual estimate reflects sales retailers such as discounters, department stores and grocery stores, but excludes sales at automotive dealers, gas stations and restaurants.