Retail sales, excluding automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants, will grow between 3.7 and 4.2% this year over 2016, estimates the National Retail Federation (NRF). 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,” feels NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “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.”
“Lawmakers should take note and stand firm against any policies, rules or regulations that would increase the cost of everyday goods for American consumers,” he adds.
“Prospects for consumer spending are straightforward – more jobs and more income will result in more spending,” says NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Regardless of sentiment, the pace of wage growth and job creation dictate spending. Our forecast represents a baseline for the year, but potential fiscal policy changes could impact consumers and the economy. It seems unlikely that businesses will notably increase investment until tax reform and trade policies are well-defined.”
“It is clear that online sales will continue to expand in 2017 and provide growth for the retail industry,” Kleinhenz continues. “But it is important to realise that virtually every major retailer sells online and many of those sales will be made by discount stores, department stores and other traditional retailers. Retailers sell to consumers however they want to buy, whether it’s in-store, online or mobile.”