The NRF predicts that retail industry sales will rise 3.4 percent to $2.53 trillion this year, slightly lower than the pace of 2011 in which sales grew 4.7 percent. Economists estimate that the real U.S. GDP will rise approximately 2.1 to 2.4 percent.
The news comes on the heels of strong holiday sales that rose 4.1 percent over 2010. The NRF predicts that many factors will contribute to a slowdown in consumer spending, including modest income growth, a tentative housing market and uncertain consumer confidence. Factors bolstering the economy include a rise in employment, an expected slow-down in inflation and expanding consumer credit.
"Over the last 18 months, retailers have been on the forefront of the economic recovery creating jobs, encouraging consumer spending, and investing in America," says Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer, NRF. "Our 2012 forecast is a vote of confidence in the retail industry and our ability to succeed even in a challenging economy. Retailers have played a key role in driving growth, but to continue this momentum we need Washington to act on proposals that will spur job creation and unleash the power of the private sector."