WASHINGTON—The future for retail sales is far rosier than expected, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF)’s chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. Last month, NRF changed its 2021 prediction to show retail sales growing between 10.5% and 13.5% above last year to reach $4.44 trillion to $4.56 trillion. That’s a significant bump from the trade group’s initial forecast in February of between 6.5% and 8.2% increases to reach between $4.33 trillion and $4.4 trillion.
“It has become clear that the U.S. economy and retail sales are growing far faster and more steadily than anyone could have expected just a few months ago,” Kleinhenz said. He noted that the group issued its initial forecast during uncertainty about vaccine distribution, virus infection rates, consumer spending and additional fiscal stimulus from the federal government.
“Since then, we have seen spending grow, vaccines have become available to virtually anyone who wants one, infections have fallen and additional stimulus in the form of the American Rescue Plan has been signed into law,” he said. “As the pandemic illustrated so vividly in 2020, we should expect the unexpected. … But based on the data at hand, things are looking very good for the economy and consumers, and we think it was prudent to update our forecast given the brightening picture.”
For the convenience store industry, retail sales appear to be continuing their upward trajectory as well. As NACS State of the Industry data for 2020 indicate, total industry inside sales increased 1.5% to a record $255.6 billion in 2020 as customers frequented their local convenience stores to fulfill daily shopping needs.
NACS research also supports a bright 2021 for the industry. Listen to “Examining the Convenience Industry Forecast Using a Crystal Ball and a Rear-View Mirror” in this week’s Convenience Matters podcast for more.