On Wednesday, the National Retail Federation released its annual economic forecast for the retail industry. Overall, the association said it is projecting that retail industry sales in 2017 (excluding the auto, gas, and restaurant industries) will grow in the ballpark of 3.7 to 4.2 percent over 2016 totals. That’s relatively flat with the 3.8 percent realized in 2016.
The big news, though, is that NRF is projecting more than modest growth in online sales in particular. Online and other non-store sales, which are included in the overall number, are expected to increase between 8 and 12 percent. That means NRF believes brick-and-mortar sales will see relatively low gains, but it shows their confidence in the continued growth of the e-commerce space.
“The economy is on firm ground as we head into 2017 and is expected to build on the momentum we saw late last year,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “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.”