Retail Sales Forecast Raised for 2021

By Alan Wolf, YSN

The National Retail Federation (NRF), the world’s largest retail trade association, has hiked its projections for total U.S. retail sales from a high of 8.2 percent to upwards of 13.5 percent in 2021.

The revised forecast, which raises anticipated dollar volume to about $4.6 trillion, was prompted by evidence of “an unprecedented recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the trade group said.

“It has become clear that the U.S. economy and retail sales are growing far faster and more steadily than anyone could have expected just a few months ago,” observed NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “We are seeing not just unprecedented growth from months of pent-up demand as the economy reopens but momentum as well.”

Kleinhenz said the group’s initial forecast, released in February, was made while there was still “great uncertainty” around consumer spending, vaccine distribution, virus infection rates, and additional fiscal stimulus. Since then, retail sales through May tracked 17.6 percent above the prior-year period and sell-through in May was the second highest on record, he said.

“As the pandemic illustrated so vividly in 2020, we should expect the unexpected,” Kleinhenz noted. “But based on the data at hand, things are looking very good for the economy and consumers, and we think it was prudent to update our forecast given the brightening picture.”