The NRF’s chief economist says online sales will continue to increase this year, driving retail industry growth.
According to 2017 sales forecasts from the National Retail Federation (NRF), online and other non-store online sales are expected to grow between 8 percent and 12 percent over last year’s sales numbers.
In a statement announcing the agency’s 2017 predictions, NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said it was clear online sales will continue to increase this year, driving retail industry growth.
“It is important to realize that virtually every major retailer sells online and many of those sales will be made by discount stores, department stores and other traditional retailers,” said Kleinhenz. “Retailers sell to consumers however they want to buy, whether it’s in-store, online or mobile.”
NRF president Matthew Shay said the economy was on firm ground and he expects the retail industry to build on the momentum from the last part of 2016.
“With jobs and income growing and debt relatively low, the fundamentals are in place and the consumer is in the driver’s seat,” said Shay, “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.”
Kleinhenz also commented on politics impacting possible outcomes: “Our forecast represents a baseline for the year, but potential fiscal policy changes could impact consumers and the economy.”
The NRF’s online sales forecasts include traditional retail categories, in addition to non-store sales, discounters, department stores, grocery stores, specialty stores and auto parts and accessories stores. The online sales predictions are a breakout of overall retails sales, which the NRF expects to grow at a slower pace — up 3.7 percent to 4.2 percent over 2016.