NRF: Retail Sales to Accelerate in Second Half

NRFWASHINGTON-U.S. retail sales will grow significantly in the second half of 2014 after a slow start to the year, according to a forecast from the National Retail Federation.

After increasing by 2.9 percent in the first half, sales will grow by at least 3.9 percent in the second half, NRF said. Overall, 2014 retail sales will increase by 3.6 percent over last year’s sales, a projection which will still be less than the 4.1 percent growth the trade group predicted in January. NRF’s number excludes automobiles, gas stations and restaurants.

Matthew Shay, NRF’s president and CEO, said the first half’s sales growth was affected by the “doldrums” experience during the first quarter. “That said, there is plenty of evidence that the second half of the year will be better for the industry as consumers begin to feel more optimistic about their spending decisions,” Shay said.

Jack Kleinhenz, NRF’s chief economist, said, “The severe weather and other factors we experienced earlier this year have taken their toll on retail, but most of those problems are behind us.” Kleinhenz described the outlook for the second half as “positive,” given accelerating growth in employment, business confidence, consumer confidence and manufacturing activity, along with low inflation.