Business Briefs – February 8, 2017

Retail Group: Sales to Grow 3.7 Percent to 4.2 Percent

NEW YORK (AP) – Despite a bumpy year-end shopping season, chains like The Limited shutting down and department stores such as Macy’s closing stores, the largest retail trade group says it’s still optimistic that sales will grow this year — especially online.

In issuing its forecast Wednesday, the National Retail Federation did caution that shoppers will remain hesitant until there’s more certainty around issues like health care and taxes under President Donald Trump.

It estimates retail sales will rise 3.7 percent to 4.2 percent this year, which could surpass last year’s 3.75 percent. Online sales and other non-store business, which are included in the overall number, are expected to be stronger and rise between 8 percent and 12 percent. The figure excludes sales at automobile dealers, gas stations and restaurants.

Puzder Says He’d Quit CEO
If Confirmed as Labor Secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) – Andrew Puzder says he would avoid conflicts of interest as President Donald Trump’s secretary of labor by resigning as executive of a fast food empire, selling off his holdings and recusing himself from government decisions in which he knows he has a financial interest. A copy of Puzder’s government ethics filings were obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.

Whole Foods’ Sales Decline Again, Grocer Cuts Forecast

NEW YORK (AP) – Whole Foods is cutting its sales forecast after another quarter of declining sales at established locations. The company has been working on trimming costs and launching an offshoot chain focused on lower costs and convenience.

Tourism Industry Debating Impact of Entry Ban

NEW YORK (AP) – President Donald Trump’s entry ban is not only being debated in the courts, it’s also being debated by the travel industry. Many experts remain bullish about prospects for international tourism in the U.S., despite a strong dollar that makes the U.S. expensive for some visitors. But others worry that Trump’s order banning travelers from seven countries may scare off tourists from elsewhere around the world. An op-ed piece in the Toronto Star even encouraged Canadians to boycott U.S. vacations.

Trump Administration Weighs Health Insurance ‘Stabilization’

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Trump administration and congressional Republicans are looking at how to stabilize wobbly health insurance markets for nearly 20 million people buying their own policies. Government and industry officials say the goal is to soothe jittery insurance companies that could bolt next year and reassure consumers. That would buy time for more ambitious GOP attempts to reshape health care.