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NRF lowers 2014 sales growth forecast

July 24, 2014

New York--After a harsh winter that hampered retail sales, the National Retail Federation has revised its retail sales forecast downward for the full year 2014, though it does expect sales to pick up in the second half of the year.

In January, the NRF estimated that retail sales would increase 4.1 percent year-over-year in 2014. Wednesday’s revision lowers that forecast to 3.6 percent, based on a weak performance seen in the retail environment through the first six months.

Poor weather conditions in highly populated areas around the country hurt the retail atmosphere during the first quarter, in addition to challenges that remain from the slow recovery out of the recession, keeping consumer spending modest and sensitive to pricing.

The NRF calculated that retail sales in the first six months were up 2.9 percent.

The organization does expect, however, for sales to grow faster in the final six months of the year. 

They are estimated to rise by at least 3.9 percent during the second half of the year, including general retail sales and non-store sales, and excluding automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.

“The severe weather and other factors we experienced earlier this year have taken their toll on retail, but most of those problems are behind us,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “A second look at our forecast shifted our expectations slightly, but it’s important to note that the outlook is positive. Sales are growing and we expect them to continue at a moderate pace.”