Shoppers expected to ramp up spending in 2015 by Phil Wahba @FortuneMagazine February 12, 2015, 12:30 PM EST E-mail Tweet Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share icons Happy days are here again. For shoppers at least. The National Retail Federation on Thursday said it expects retail sales to jump 4.1% this year, with lower gas prices, rising wages and job growth prompting U.S. consumers to splurge a bit more. That would be the fastest rate of growth since 2011. After a bumpy 2014 that saw retail spending increase in jumps and starts, the end of the year saw a long-awaited recovery in the economy and job market gain traction. Indeed, retailers from Target TGT to J.C. Penney JCP to Kohl’s KSS all reported better than expected holiday season sales numbers. “The consumer is feeling a bit better—consumer sentiment is at record levels, there are improving prospects for jobs, gas prices for now remain low,” Matt Shay, NRF CEO said on a briefing with the media. “The ingredients are there for a more sustained and robust expansion.” The NRF expects unemployment to fall to 5% by year’s end from 5.7% now, and for wages to start picking up with year end.