US Retail Sales Forecast to Grow by 3.8-4.4% This Year

February 12, 2018

Retail industry sales (excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) in the US will increase by somewhere between 3.8% and 4.4% this year, forecasts the NRF, which also expects an increase of 10-12% in online and non-store sales as part of its overall prediction.

Both figures are up slightly from similar forecasts issued last year, which called for 3.7-4.2% retail sales growth and non-store sales growth of 8-12%.

Preliminary figures suggest that retail sales grew by 3.9% last year to $3.53 trillion, with that growth rate slightly below the midpoint of what was forecast.

The small increase in 2018’s growth rate forecast comes on the back of a strong holiday season, in which retail sales grew by 5.5%, far above the forecast rate of 3.6-4%.

The increase in non-store holiday sales (including e-commerce) was on the lower end of the forecast, though, which may explain why that area of 2018’s forecast hasn’t received a bump over last year.

Separately, eMarketer reportedly recently forecast that e-commerce sales would grow by almost 16% this year, rising to constitute 10% of total retail sales for the first time. The forecast called for US retail sales growth of 3.7%, below the NRF’s forecast.

In other highlights from eMarketer’s forecast:

  • E-commerce is predicted to represent 1 in every 8 retail dollars in 2020;
  • Mobile commerce is expected to climb by 32% this year;
  • Increase in mobile commerce will result in it accounting for almost 40% of e-commerce sales this year and about half of e-commerce sales in 2020;
  • Mobile commerce will represent 4% of total retail sales in the US this year;
  • About 7 in 10 Americans (190.3 million) will make a purchase online this year, while 155.5 million will make a retail purchase on a mobile device; and
  • Americans ages 25-34 will comprise the largest share of e-commerce purchasers.

About the Data: The NRF notes that:

“Retail industry sales as defined by NRF include most traditional retail categories including non-store sales, discounters, department stores, grocery stores, specialty stores, and auto parts and accessories stores but exclude sales at automotive dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants. Non-store sales include online sales, kiosks, catalogs, mail order and vending machines and are included in the overall number.”

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