By Michelle Graff
Washington--The National Retail Federation has revised its outlook for retail sales growth in 2015 after a slow first half, lowering the forecast from 4.1 percent to 3.5 percent.

The 3.5 percent growth expected for this year would put it in line with the actual growth seen in 2014, which also required a forecast revision from the NRF in July after a slow start to the year.

The NRF said that sales grew 2.9 percent during the first half of 2015, an unexpectedly slow rate, due to a few factors--poor weather across the country during most of the winter, issues at West Coast ports, a stronger U.S. dollar, weak foreign growth and declines in energy sector investments.

Household spending patterns also have seemingly shifted purchases away from goods and toward services, though the NRF notes that this trend may only be temporary. In addition, a deflationary retail environment has hurt retailers’ bottom lines.

Over the next five months, sales are expected to grow at a stronger 3.7 percent, benefitting from recent improvements in the housing and labor markets, lower energy costs and improved consumer confidence.

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