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Retail Sales Expected to Top $5.2 Trillion in 2024

2 Mins read

Last year was surprisingly strong for the nation’s retailers—thanks to an expected recession that never came and resilient consumers who just kept on spending, leading to annual sales growth of 3.6% and revenues of $5.1 trillion. The National Retail Federation (NRF) just issued its 2024 retail sales forecast. NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay says the organization is confident this year will feature “moderate but steady growth.”

Retail sales are expected to increase between 2.5% and 3.5%, reaching between $5.23 trillion and $5.28 trillion. This growth rate is consistent with the 10-year pre-pandemic average annual sales growth of 3.6%.

Online and non-store sales (which are included in the total) are forecast to rise between 7% and 9% to between $1.47 trillion and $1.50 trillion. Last year, online sales hit a record-setting $1.38 trillion.

Shay attributes the continued growth to “retailers offering consumers products and services when, where, and how they want to shop with prices they want to pay.”

The 2024 sales forecast was released as part of the fourth annual State of Retail & the Consumer virtual discussion. Also released during the discussion was The Economic Contribution of the U.S. Retail Industry, conducted by PwC. The report reveals that, in 2022, the retail industry’s 4.6 million establishments supported 55 million jobs (full- and part-time), which was 26% of total employment in the country. This was up from 52 million jobs and 25% of total employment in the previous report in 2018. In addition, the retail industry contributed $5.3 trillion (20.4%) to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The study also found that 98.6% of retailers in America were small businesses with less than 50 employees, accounting for 40.1% of all retail jobs in 2022.

Jack Kleinhenz, NRF’s chief economist, expects 2024’s GDP growth to slow a bit to 2.3%, compared to 2023’s 2.5%. The NRF says this rate of growth is still “strong enough to sustain job growth.” Plus, inflation is “expected to moderate.”

Kleinhenz notes, “The question for 2024 ultimately is, will consumer spending maintain its resilience?” Several surveys already released this year show consumer sentiment remains positive, so consumers are likely to continue to spend—which is more good news for the nation’s retailers.

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at rieva@smallbusinesscurrents.com, follow her on Twitter @Rieva, and visit her website SmallBusinessCurrents.com to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free Currents newsletter.

Retail sales stock image by Arthimedes/Shutterstock

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