Surveys

NRF Predicts Strong Year for Retail Despite Rising Prices

SurveysMar 17, 2022

NRF Predicts Strong Year for Retail Despite Rising Prices

Retail sales are expected to grow 6 to 8 percent in 2022.

The National Retail Federation predicted retail sales could grow between 6 and 8 percent year-over-year in 2022 to between $4.86 trillion and $4.95 trillion.
New York—The National Retail Federation is predicting a strong year for retail but remains wary of the potential impacts of COVID-19, rising inflation, and international tensions.

Retail sales are expected to grow between 6 and 8 percent year-over-year in 2022 to between $4.86 trillion and $4.95 trillion.

Non-store and online sales, which are included in the total figure, are expected to grow year-over-year between 11 percent and 13 percent to between $1.17 trillion and $1.19 trillion.

NRF’s calculation of retail sales excludes automobile dealers, gas stations, and restaurants, focusing on core retail.

The organization announced its forecast during its annual “State of Retail & the Consumer” virtual event, held Tuesday.

“There are clearly many areas where challenges remain. Those headwinds won’t go away overnight, but we expect to see durable and enduring economic growth during the rest of this year,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay during the presentation.

Consumers are ready to spend and have the money to back it up, said Shay.

In 2021, there was a 14 percent annual growth rate, the highest in more than 20 years. 

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The 2022 sales forecast is also much higher than the 10-year, pre-pandemic growth rate of 3.7 percent. 

Looking to the rest of the year, the NRF is predicting strong job and wage growth and declining unemployment.

Full-year GDP growth is expected to be slower, however, at around 3.5 percent, due in part to less fiscal stimulus, the tightening of monetary policy, and rising inflation.

The consumer price index, which measures the average change in prices over time consumers will pay for a basket of goods and services, rose 0.8 percent month-over-month in February and 7.9 percent year-over-year.

It marked the highest level since January 1982, climbing higher than analysts had expected.

“Most households have never experienced anything like this level of inflation, and it is expected to remain elevated well into 2023,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz in a press release. 

Kleinhenz also noted the potential impact of COVID-19, international tensions, and policy variability.

Dave Bruno, director of retail market insights at Aptos, shared these concerns and warned retailers to “stay vigilant.”

“There is still so much uncertainty and risk ahead,” Bruno said in a statement to National Jeweler.

“Despite somewhat solid fundamentals, consumers have so many things to contend with right now—war, inflation, fuel prices, the winding down of COVID benefits, to name just a few—which will put a strain on consumer confidence and, I suspect, future numbers.”

“Retailers who empower shoppers with convenience, flexibility, transparency, and timely communications throughout every journey will earn the confidence of their customers and thereby encourage more purchases, more often.”—Dave Bruno, Aptos

Spring holidays, like Easter and Mother’s Day, could bolster numbers through March and April, said Bruno, but retailers shouldn’t get too comfortable.

“Retailers should prepare for the uncertain months ahead by focusing on the one thing they can control: the customer experience,” he said.

“Retailers who empower shoppers with convenience, flexibility, transparency, and timely communications throughout every journey will earn the confidence of their customers and thereby encourage more purchases, more often,” said Bruno.

The U.S. Commerce Department also reported February retail sales Tuesday, which showed sales growing at a slower-than-expected pace due in part to inflation.

Retail sales grew 0.3 percent month-over-month to $658.1 billion, just below the 0.4 percent Dow Jones estimate. Year-over-year, February sales were up nearly 18 percent.

Non-store and online shopping took the biggest hit in February, with sales falling nearly 4 percent month-over-month.

The numbers for January were revised, with sales up 5 percent compared with the initial estimate of 4 percent.

The numbers provided are not adjusted for inflation.

NRF’s calculation of retail sales showed February was down 1 percent seasonally adjusted from January’s revised numbers but up 13 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

The NRF’s virtual event is available to watch on its website.
Lenore Fedowis the associate editor, news at National Jeweler, covering the retail beat and the business side of jewelry.

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