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Retail Sales Growth in 2019 Forecast to Nearly Match Last Year

Barring any hindrances from looming political and financial realms, consumer spending should climb between 3.8% and 4.4% this year for the 10th consecutive annual growth in retail sales, the National Retail Federation forecasts.

While the retail trade group, in a statement Tuesday morning, predicted retail spending to top $3.8 trillion, the ongoing trade war with China, the aftereffects of a government shutdown, and threat of another in the coming weeks, could dampen its forecast.

Additionally, the continued volatility on Wall Street could affect consumer spending habits, the group said.

However, overall, the association believes the underlying state of the economy is sound.

“More people are working, they’re making more money, their taxes are lower, and their confidence remains high,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “The biggest priority is to ensure that our economy continues to grow and to avoid self-inflicted wounds. It’s time for artificial problems like trade wars and shutdowns to end, and to focus on prosperity not politics.”

If the sales growth forecast is realized , 2019 would represent the 10th consecutive year of retail growth. 2018 saw retail sales increase 4.6% to $3.68 trillion, according to the NRF, thanks, in part, to a strong holiday season. Online sales, broken out by themselves, were up 10.4% last year.

The numbers do not include restaurants, auto dealers or gas stations.