The National Retail Federation predicts retail sales will increase between 3.8 percent and 4.4 percent in 2019. That would mark a slight decline from 4.6 percent growth in 2018.
“We believe the underlying state of the economy is sound,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a news release. “More people are working, they’re making more money, their taxes are lower and their confidence remains high. The biggest priority is to ensure that our economy continues to grow and to avoid self-inflicted wounds. It’s time for artificial problems like trade wars and shutdowns to end, and to focus on prosperity, not politics.”
Online sales continue to grow at a robust pace of greater than 10 percent per year. NRF expects a rise in the range of 10 percent to 12 percent in 2019.
Online retail sales totaled $682.8 billion in 2018, or just under 19 percent of overall retail sales – excluding auto dealers, gas stations and restaurants – of $3.68 trillion.
NRF didn’t provide a separate estimate for retail furniture sales.
“We are not seeing any deterioration in the financial health of the consumer,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Consumers are in better shape than any time in the last few years. Most important for the year ahead will be the ongoing strength in the job market, which will support the consumer income and spending that are both key drivers of the economy. The bottom line is that the economy is in a good place despite the ups and downs of the stock market and other uncertainties. Growth remains solid.”
NRF noted that retailers so far have not been hit hard by tariffs on imported steel and aluminum and on goods made in China, but that could change if import taxes on products from China more than double in March as currently scheduled.