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Although Sears filed for bankruptcy in 2018, this month saw the retail giant being bought out and the liquidation prevented. So could this be a positive bellwether for the state of retail? Perhaps so, as the National Retail Federation’s 2019 forecast predicts that the industry will indeed see growth.

The figures, which are estimated in part by using Commerce Department data from January through November 2018 (the shutdown has held back December’s numbers), forecast growth of between 3.8% and 4.4% in 2019, which would see retail sales of between $3.82 trillion and $3.84 trillion. These numbers exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants.

The continued growth is buoyed by an expected fall in the overall unemployment rate in the US, along with the expectation that inflation and interest rates will remain low.

Online sales are expected to grow by 10-12% this year, which would represent a total between $751.1 billion and $764.8 billion, which is included in the overall forecast figures.

The level of expected growth is the same as the NRF’s prediction for 2018, but behind the actual estimated growth rate of 4.6%. It’s believed that total retail sales reached $3.68 trillion by the end of last year.

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