NRF predicts 2.5% rise in retail sales this year

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The National Retail Federation predicted that retail industry sales will increase 2.5% this year over 2009. Last year, total retail sales declined 2.5% over the prior year.

The increase in retail sales is attributed to factors such as the housing market and employment picture. Those developments should bolster consumer confidence throughout the year, according to the NRF.

Trade, especially strong exports, a turnaround in the inventory cycle and federal government spending will also be positive economic contributions throughout this year, according to the NRF. The group also predicted in a statement that consumer spending will lag behind overall economic growth, but expand at a 2% to 2.5% rate.

“Overall sentiment will begin to lift, making way for slight increases in consumer spending,” Rosalind Wells, chief economist at the NRF, said in a statement. “While we still expect shoppers to continue to be frugal with their discretionary spending, retailers will soon be able to reap the benefits of leaner, smarter inventories and a year and a half of pent up consumer demand.”

Earlier this month, the NRF revealed that holiday retail, which includes the full moths of November and December, rose 1.1% over the prior year. Last October, the NRF predicted a 1% decline in 2009 holiday shopping.

An NRF representative could not be immediately reached for comment.

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