U.S. retail sales in 2018 could climb slightly higher than last year’s 3.9 percent gain, as lower unemployment and growing wages drive consumer confidence higher.
The National Retail Federation on Thursday projected industry sales will grow between 3.8 and 4.4 percent this year, excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants. That compares with NRF’s forecast last year of growth between 3.2 and 3.8 percent. A jump of 4.4 percent would be the biggest increase since 2011, when retail sales climbed 5 percent.
Online and other non-store sales, which are included in NRF’s total projections, are expected to increase between 10 and 12 percent. That incorporates sales made from mall kiosks, catalogs and vending machines.
“A robust holiday season for retail sales is just one of many barometers that points to a consumer that is clearly feeling positive about their financial health,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said.
“Despite headlines to the contrary, the retail industry is strong, growing and meeting consumer demand with the products they want at the prices they expect and the shopping experience they want to have, online or in store,” he added.