NRF: Retail Sales Growth to Slip This Year

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The National Retail Federation expects retail sales growth to slow this year to 4.8 percent, a considerable drop from last year's 7 percent.

Tough year-over-year comparisons, a sluggish economy, high interest rates, increasing consumer debt, low savings and soaring energy costs were blamed for the low expectations. Last year's performance was the retail industry's best since 1999.

"Because interest rates are rising and home sales are dropping, furniture and furnishing stores could be hit especially hard," said Ellen Tolley, NRF's director of media relations. "It used to be the first thing people would do when they refinanced their mortgages. But people aren't refinancing their mortgages at that level any more."

The conservative estimate also is based on new categories added by NRF, Washington, for its projections. They include stores in the grocery and supermarkets, building materials and gardening equipment, health and personal care, office supplies, florists and gift shops categories.

"Supermarkets are selling toys and office supply stores are selling electronics, so it became very important for us to track these new categories based on the evolution of retail," Tolley said. "Late last year, we decided it was important for us to look at more retail categories when tracking retail sales, and we've said that, at the beginning of [the] second quarter this year, we would release a new sales forecast based on the categories that we've added into retail sales."

NRF is retaining old categories like general merchandisers and discounters, apparel stores, furniture and home furnishings stores, sporting goods stores as well as books, hobby and music stores. Both the old and new categories cover sales in all channels, including brick-and-mortar, catalog and e-commerce.

Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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