2022 promises to be another good one for retailers. The National Retail Federation (NRF) just released its annual forecast predicting retail sales will grow between 6% to 8%, totaling $4.86 trillion to $4.95 trillion this year.
Online sales will fare even better, likely growing between 11% and 13%, to between $1.17 trillion to $1.19 trillion as consumers continue to embrace e-commerce. This total reflects non-store sales as well. NRF statistics don’t include automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants sales.
NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay says, “Consumers are ready to spend and have the resources to do so. We should see durable growth this year given consumer confidence to continue this expansion, notwithstanding risks related to inflation, COVID-19, and geopolitical threats.”
This positive outlook follows a very strong retail performance last year when revenues climbed 14%, the highest growth rate in more than 20 years. This year’s sales forecast is notably above the 10-year, pre-pandemic growth rate of 3.7%.
NRF anticipates strong job and wage growth, and declining unemployment will contribute to the rise in retail revenues. But it projects full-year GDP growth will be slower in 2022, coming in around 3.5%, “given the surge of inflation, tightening of monetary policy, and less fiscal stimulus.”
However, the NRF adds, “there is considerable uncertainty this year that [we] will continue to monitor closely. Most households have never experienced anything like this level of inflation, and it is expected to remain elevated well into 2023,” says NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “In addition to inflation, the forces impacting the economy include COVID-19, international tensions, and policy variability.”
Kleinhenz adds, “Consumer fundamentals remain in place. Household finances are healthy and strong job and wage growth should support solid growth for consumer spending for 2022.”
The announcement was made during NRF’s annual State of Retail & the Consumer virtual event (you can view the event at that link), where retail industry leaders discussed the strength of the consumer economy and the future of retail.