Retail Group Expects Year-End Sales to Rise 3.6 to 4 Percent


A retail trade group says it expects sales during the year-end shopping season to at least match the 3.6 percent growth of a year ago, as job creation and improving wages should put shoppers in a mood to spend.

The National Retail Federation said Tuesday it expects sales in November and December to rise 3.6 percent to 4 percent, to a range of $678.75 billion to $682 billion. It’s the first time the trade group forecast in a range rather than by a fixed percentage, because the impact of several big hurricanes is still uncertain.

So far this year dozens of retail chains have filed for bankruptcy, and hundreds of stores have closed — particularly among those dependent on clothing sales. Toys R Us is reorganizing in bankruptcy as well at a critical time of year. Sales during the year-end shopping season account for nearly 20 percent of the annual industry sales total.

But online spending is still growing strongly, which accounts for some of the optimism, and some analysts say retailers like dollar chains are still adding locations.

Forecasts from Deloitte, the International Council of Shopping Centers and AlixPartners have come in at around the same level, ranging from growth of 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent. PwC predicts that year-end spending will rise 6 percent, but that estimate includes travel and entertainment. Other year-end forecasts exclude restaurants and travel.

The NRF forecast — which considers economic indicators such as consumer credit, disposable personal income and monthly retail sales — excludes sales from autos, gas and restaurants but includes online spending and other non-store sales like those from catalogs. It estimates that online spending and other non-store sales will rise 11 percent to 15 percent.

More and more sales are moving online, and internet leader Amazon is increasingly exerting its influence over a huge part of the retailing world.

Credit Suisse believes that there could be 8,640 store closings this year, which would surpass the 2008 peak of 6,200. But retail research group IHL says retailers are opening about 1,300 more stores in 2017 than they are closing. That’s according to its report that reviewed 1,800 retail chains with more than 50 U.S. stores in ten areas.

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