NEW YORK — While attendees at the National Retail Federation’s 101st Annual Conventional and Expo here were buzzing about this morning’s upcoming speech by former President Bill Clinton, the NRF issued its sales forecast for 2012, projecting growth of 3.4%, to $2.53 trillion (excluding autos, gas and restaurants).
That would represent a slowdown from the pace of growth in 2011, in which sales grew 4.7%.
“Over the last 18 months, retailers have been on the forefront of the economic recovery – creating jobs, encouraging consumer spending, and investing in America,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and chief executive officer.
Several factors contribute to this forecast, the NRF said:
- Lower unemployment should boost income and spending.
- Income growth is still constrained.
- NRF expects home sales and construction will improve slightly in 2012, with low interest rates and affordability at an almost 30-year high.
- NRF expects inflation to slow down to near 2%, although rising gas prices could pressure spending.
- Expanding consumer credit indicates consumers have confidence to take on debt.
- Confidence continues to rebound, but remains fragile.