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NRF Revises Yearly Retail Sales Forecast Downward

The National Retail Federation has revised its full year retail sales forecast downward as slower than expected growth during the first half of 2015 have served to put a drag on sales, officials with the retail trade group said.

As retailers enter the back-to-school shopping season and have their eyes set on the fourth quarter, the NRF expects retail sales to grow 3.5%. It has previously forecasted growth of 4.1%.

According to a report released on Wednesday, the NRF calculated that sales grew 2.9% during the first half of 2015 and are expected to grow 3.7% over the next five months. The estimates include general retail sales and non-store sales, and exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants. Revised non-store sales are now expected to grow between 6% and 8%.

“A confluence of events, including treacherous weather throughout the United States through most of the winter, issues at the West Coast ports, a stronger U.S. dollar, weak foreign growth and declines in energy sector investments all significantly and negatively impacted retail sales so far this year, and thus have changed how future sales will shape up for the rest of 2015,” said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist.

He noted that household spending patterns appear to have shifted purchases toward services and away from goods, though he feels this may be transitory. Additionally, a deflationary retail environment has been especially challenging for retailers’ bottom lines, he said.

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