Retail sales will slow to 3.4 percent this year but will outpace consensus expectations for overall economic growth, according to a new National Retail Federation forecast.
The increase will come despite stubbornly high unemployment and continued uncertainty over the prospects for job growth, NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said Monday at the federation’s annual conference in New York.
The retail federation expects retail industry sales excluding autos, gasoline and restaurants to rise 3.4 percent to $2.53 trillion, compared with growth of 4.7 percent in 2011. Most economists expect GDP to rise 2.1 to 2.4 percent.
Shay said retailers’ holiday sales rose 4.1 percent from 2010 but this year’s outlook is clouded by high unemployment, slow income growth, commodity inflation, a shaky housing market. He said consumers are starting to spend more but that consumer confidence remains fragile.
The Global Port Tracker published by the NRF and Hackett Associates this month forecast that container import volume through 10 major U.S. container ports should be nearly flat in January before rising this spring.
Journal of Commerce Mario O. Moreno economist forecasts U.S. containerized imports through all U.S. ports will rise 1.3 percent in the first quarter and 2.8 percent for the year.