News Feature | February 16, 2017

NRF Economic Forecast Sees Growth For 2017

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Upward Trend

Predictions say retail could see growth between 3.7 and 4.2 percent year-over-year.

According to The National Retail Federation’s   economic forecast for 2017, retail industry sales (excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants) are projected to grow between 3.7 percent and 4.2 percent year-over-year. It also forecast that online and other non-store sales alone, which are included in the overall number, will see an anticipated increase of between 8 percent and 12 percent.

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay explains that those increases are predicated on the assumption that the “economy is on firm ground.” He explained, “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.”

Among the economic insights provided by the report are:

  • An estimated gain of approximately 160,000 jobs a month for the overall economy, slightly down from 2016 but consistent with labor market growth.
  • An anticipated drop in unemployment to 4.6 percent by the end of the year.
  • Economic growth in the rage of 1.9 to 2.4 percent.

Of course, the predictions are predicated on existing conditions, and cannot predict what changes in legislation made under the new administration might bring.

“Prospects for consumer spending are straightforward – more jobs and more income will result in more spending,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “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.”