NRF: U.S. Poised For Strongest Retail Growth Since 2004

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U.S. retail sales will increase between 6.5 percent and 8.2 percent in 2021, the National Retail Federation forecasted last week, citing continued consumer resilience and suggesting the economy’s strongest growth rate in two decades. The prognostication is based on numerous trending data points and the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.

Jack Kleinhenz, the trade group’s chief economist, cited factors for optimistic forecast, most notably high stock prices and home sales; low interest rates, consumer purchasing power and federal government financial support to bolster spending and the economy. Real GDP growth in 2021 is pegged at 4.5-5.0 percent, he said, with an acceleration in the second and third quarters after a slower start to the year. According to one recent study, U.S. consumers are preparing to spend 4.2 percent more in 2021 than they did in 2020, which would represent the largest increase in five years.

Online retail sales rose 22 percent to $970 billion in 2020, exceeding a forecast of 12 percent growth, and are projected to gain 18-23 percent this year to $1.1-1.2 billion.