NRF Ups 2021 US Retail Forecast To $4.44 Trillion

The National Retail Federation (NRF) issued its revised annual forecast for 2021, anticipating that retail sales will now grow between 10.5% and 13.5% to more than $4.44 trillion this year as the economy accelerates its pace of recovery. The announcement was made during NRF’s inaugural State of Retail and the Consumer event. 

“The economy and consumer spending have proven to be much more resilient than initially forecasted,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “The combination of vaccine distribution, fiscal stimulus and private-sector ingenuity have put millions of Americans back to work. While there are downside risks related to worker shortages, an overheating economy, tax increases and over-regulation, overall households are healthier, and consumers are demonstrating their ability and willingness to spend. The pandemic was a reminder how essential small, mid-size and large retailers are to the everyday lives of Americans in communities nationwide.”

The revised forecast surpasses NRF’s initial projection of at least 6.5% growth, made in February 2021. The initial forecast was made when there was still great uncertainty about consumer spending, vaccine distribution, virus infection rates and additional fiscal stimulus, prior to passage of the American Rescue Plan Act. 

NRF now forecasts that 2021 retail sales are estimated to total between $4.44 trillion to $4.56 trillion. Non-store and online sales, which are included in the total figure, are expected to grow between 18% and 23% to a range of $1.09 trillion to $1.13 trillion as consumers continue to utilise e-commerce. The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.

The updated figure compares with $4.02 trillion in total retail sales in 2020. Of that, $920 billion was from purchases made through non-store and online channels. 

In addition, NRF now projects full-year GDP growth to approach 7%, compared with the 4.4% and 5% forecasted earlier this year. Pre-pandemic levels of output are expected to return this quarter.

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