NRF Says Brick-and-Mortar Stores Remain ‘Primary Point of Purchase’
The statement came as the National Retail Federation released its retail sales forecast for 2023.
These are among the takeaways from the National Retail Federation’s annual forecast, released Wednesday.
The Washington, D.C.-based retail trade association said it expects U.S. retail sales (excluding automobiles, gas and restaurant spending) to grow 4-6 percent to reach between $5.13 trillion and $5.23 trillion this year.
That is down from 7 percent growth in 2022 ($4.94 trillion in total sales), though still hovering above the pre-pandemic average annual of 3.6 percent sales growth.
“In just the last three years, the retail industry has experienced growth that would normally take almost a decade by pre-pandemic standards,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said.
“While we expect growth to moderate in the year ahead, it will remain positive as retail sales stabilize to more historical levels. Retailers are prepared to serve customers in the current economic environment by offering a range of products at affordable prices with great shopping experiences.”
Non-store and online sales, which are included in the total figure, are expected to grow 10-12 percent year-over-year reaching $1.41 trillion-$1.43 trillion, outpacing overall growth.
Yet NRF noted, “While many consumers continue to utilize the conveniences offered by online shopping, much of that growth is driven by multichannel sales, where the physical store still plays an important component in the fulfillment process.
“As the role of brick-and-mortar stores has evolved in recent years, they remain the primary point of purchase for consumers, accounting for approximately 70 percent of total retail sales.”
NRF announced its annual sales forecast during the third annual “State of Retail & the Consumer” event, held virtually. The event brings together retail executives from major brands, economists and consumer experts to discuss the state of the U.S. consumer and the retail industry.
For the full year, NRF predicts gross domestic product (GDP) growth of about 1 percent, about half of the increase witnessed in 2022, reflecting a slower economy overall.
Inflation is falling but will remain between 3 percent and 3.5 percent for all goods and services this year.
Job growth is expected to slow in the coming months, trending in lockstep with the slowing economy and the prospect of restrictive credit conditions, with the unemployment rate expected to exceed 4 percent before the year is over.
Overall, economic activity has held up well despite “restrictive monetary policy” enacted to curb inflation, said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz, referring to the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates. The Fed raised its benchmark interest rate for the ninth consecutive time last week to just under 5 percent.
He acknowledged, however, that recent development in the financial markets and the banking sector—the collapses of Silicon Valley Bank and New York-based Signature Bank—muddy the outlook for the year ahead.
“While it is still too early to know the full effects of the banking industry turmoil, consumer spending is looking quite good for the first quarter of 2023,” he said. “While we expect consumers to maintain spending, a softer and likely uneven pace is projected for the balance of the year.”
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