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Economists Hopeful for Retail Growth After Recovery From Government Shutdown

As economists look further into economic growth in 2019, many are anticipating a positive outcome for the retail sector, where U.S. sales are expected to rise significantly. On Feb. 5, Reuters reported the latest predictions from the National Retail Federation (NRF), finding the mixture of increased consumer confidence, growing wages and low employment behind the rise.

According to Reuters, U.S. retail sales are expected rise between 3.8% and 4.4% in 2019, slightly below the rough estimates for 2018 at 4.6%, but above the original 2018 predictions (4.5%). The hopeful readings don't strictly focus on the brick-and-mortar stores. NRF said their predictions also include "online and other nonstore sales," with increases between 10% and 12%.

"More people are working, they're making more money, their taxes are lower and their confidence remains high," NRF President and Chief Executive Matthew Shay said in the Reuters report. "The biggest priority is to ensure that our economy continues to grow and to avoid self-inflicted wounds."

However, NACM Economist Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., says the retail sector is in the midst of recuperating after the government shutdown's impact on businesses in the service sector. 

"Unlike the government employees who have been promised back pay, these companies will get nothing at all and will simply be out the income they had expected to earn," said Kuehl, who noted the construction sector also suffered. "The construction impact will ease a little as the weather improves and the building season starts up again, but there is not much that spurs retail until deeper into the spring and summer."

—Andrew Michaels, editorial associate
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