Retail sales are forecast to grow to more than $3.9 trillion in 2020, an increase of between 3.5% and 4.1%, according to data from the National Retail Federation (NRF), released this week.
NRF said the fundamentals of the economy remain strong and that the group expects a healthy 2020, although “wild cards” such as the coronavirus outbreak and a politically charged election year could have an effect on the outlook.
Preliminary results show that 2019 retail sales grew 3.7% compared to 2018, to $3.79 trillion. That total includes online and other non-store sales, which were up nearly 13% to $777.3 billion. The numbers exclude auto dealers, gas stations, and restaurants.
Of the expected $3.9 trillion in sales this year, NRF says online sales should grow between 12% and 15% to between $870.6 billion and $893.9 billion. The group said it expects the economy to gain between 150,000 and 170,000 jobs per month this year, compared to an average 175,000 in 2019, and that unemployment should remain around 3.5%. Gross domestic product is forecast to grow 1.9%, down from preliminary estimates of 2.3% growth in 2019.
“The economy is growing at a more modest pace, but the underlying economic fundamentals remain in place and are positive,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Consumers remain upbeat and have the confidence to spend, and the steady wage growth that has come with the strong job market is fueling their spending. The state of the consumer is very healthy.”