(Reuters) – U.S. retail sales are expected to rise between 3.5% and 4.1% to more than $3.9 trillion this year, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said on Wednesday, despite fears surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.
The trade body expects sales to be between $3.93 trillion and $3.95 trillion, citing steady wage growth and consumer confidence and assuming the virus outbreak does not become a pandemic.
However, NRF expects sales to take a hit if the China factory shutdown continues.
Preliminary results show retail sales for 2019 — excluding automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants — grew 3.7% over 2018 to $3.79 trillion, falling short of NRF’s forecast for growth of at least 3.8%.
“There are always wild cards we cannot control like coronavirus and a politically charged election year. But when it comes to the fundamentals, our economy is sound and consumers continue to lead the way,” NRF President and Chief Executive Matthew Shay said. (https://bit.ly/2vizETE)
Online and other non-store sales, which are included in the overall number for 2020, are expected to increase between 12% and 15%, according to the NRF.
The retail body expects the overall economy to gain between 150,000 and 170,000 jobs per month in 2020, down from 175,000 in 2019, and unemployment, which is currently at 3.6%, to drop to 3.5% by the end of the year.
(Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)