The National Retail Federation (NRF) is evaluating how retail sales may perform in 2021 after 2020 saw both strong sales for some retail sectors and stalled activity in others.
Overall, NRF says there are many economic indicators that point toward potentially record retail sales in 2021, but COVID-19 remains a wildcard for every retailer.
“There is no doubt the economy is positioned for growth in 2021, but how much growth comes down to a single non-economic force–the coronavirus,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz says. “I am optimistic about improving macroeconomic conditions as COVID-19 infections decline and distribution of vaccines becomes more widespread. Yet the road is never straight, and we have challenges ahead. The pandemic remains the largest uncertainty and the biggest risk the economy faces in 2021.”
In the organization’s March 2021 Monthly Economic Review, Kleinhenz outlines several key economic factors that could lead to increased retail sales in 2021, including: high stock values, increased home prices, record low interest rates alongside growing employment and wage figures.
NRF forecasts retail sales, excluding automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, will grow between 6.5 to 8.2 percent over 2020 levels, totaling roughly $4.3 trillion.
In its report, NRF points toward strong online sales figures as one factor for potentially higher 2021 sales. In 2020, online shopping grew 21.9 percent over 2019 levels, and is poised to accelerate another 18 to 23 percent in 2021, NRF says.
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