The National Retail Federation has forecasted that retail sales during 2019 will increase between 3.8% and 4.4%.
As part of the prediction, the NRF said the ‘state of the economy is sound’ despite threats from an ongoing trade war, a volatile stock market and the effects of a government shutdown.
Preliminary estimates show that retail sales during 2018 grew 4.6% over 2017 to $3.68 trillion, exceeding NRF’s forecast of at least 4.5 percent growth.
The number includes online and other non-store sales, which were up 10.4% at $682.8 billion.
That met NRF’s forecast of 10-12 percent online growth, and online is expected to grow in the same 10-12 percent range again this year. The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.
NRF president and CEO, Matthew Shay, commented: “We believe the underlying state of the economy is sound. More people are working, they’re making more money, their taxes are lower and their confidence remains high.”
He continued: “The biggest priority is to ensure that our economy continues to grow and to avoid self-inflicted wounds. It’s time for artificial problems like trade wars and shutdowns to end, and to focus on prosperity not politics.”
Growth of between 3.8 percent and 4.4 percent would result in total 2019 retail sales of between $3.82trillion and $3.84trillion.
Based on growth of 10-12 percent, online sales would total between $751.1 billion and $764.8 billion, which are included in the total.
The 2018 results are based on Commerce Department data up through November but include NRF estimates for December because the agency was closed during the recent government shutdown and has not yet released December figures.
The results are subject to revision once December numbers become available, and government numbers are revised again each spring regardless of the shutdown.