NRF: Retail Sales Expected to Climb Between 3.5-4.1% in 2020, Unless Coronavirus Derails Growth

NRF’s 2020 forecast assumes the coronavirus does not become a global pandemic.

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Retail sales in 2020 are forecast to rise between 3.5-4.1%, topping $3.9 trillion, despite the headwinds of a lingering trade war, the coronavirus outbreak and an upcoming presidential election, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

“The nation’s record-long economic expansion is continuing, and consumers remain the drivers of that expansion,” National Retail Federation president and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “With gains in household income and wealth, lower interest rates and strong consumer confidence, we expect another healthy year ahead. There are always wild cards we cannot control like coronavirus and a politically charged election year. But, when it comes to the fundamentals, our economy is sound and consumers continue to lead the way.”

NRF’s 2020 forecast assumes the coronavirus does not become a global pandemic, and implies that business confidence and 2020 retail sales could be hit “if factory shutdowns in China continue, particularly if delivery of holiday season merchandise is affected.”

E-commerce sales, which are included in NRF’s overall forecast, are expected to grow between 12-15%, to between $870.6-893.9 billion, in 2020.

NRF expects the overall economy to gain between 150,000-170,000 jobs each month this year, compared with an average of 175,000 last year, and expects the unemployment rate in the United States to remain around 3.5%.