Although the world is still in the midst of a global pandemic, the rollout of vaccinations for COVID-19 has provided a light at the end of the tunnel as well as a sense of optimism when it comes to the outlook of retail sales. The National Retail Federation’s 2021 forecast predicts steady growth in the industry again this year.
The NRF predicts industry growth between 6.5% and 8.2% this year, which puts projected retail sales (excluding those from automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants) at somewhere between $4.3 trillion and $4.4 trillion.
Expectations are high for the economy as more people get vaccinated and the job market grows, leading NRF to predict real GDP growth of 4.5-5%.
Online sales are expected to grow between 18% and 23%, totaling between $1.1 trillion and $1.2 trillion, which is included in the overall forecast figures.
The level of expected growth this year is more optimistic than the NRF’s predictions of 3.5-4.1% growth for 2020. However, even with the disruption in retail caused by the pandemic, NRF reports that early retail sales results for 2020 indicate growth of 6.7% year-over-year, reaching $4.1 trillion.
The growth seen in retail sales last year is largely due to what turned out to be surprisingly robust holiday period (November-December). The more than $787 billion in sales during this period represents one-fifth (19.4%) of total sales for the year.