The National Retail Federation (NRF) recently released its 2015 economic forecast, projecting retail industry will increase 4.1%, up from 3.5 percent in 2014.

The 4.1% increase in sales, which excludes automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, would mark the biggest annual growth since 2011, when retail sales for the year increased 5.1 percent. The NRF also announced it expects non-store sales in 2015 to grow between 7% and 10%.

“Already facing far fewer obstacles than this time last year in terms of growth opportunities, retailers are optimistic about the potential that exists for healthy growth in retail sales and consumer engagement in 2015,” says NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “While our outlook for the year ahead is positive, we aren’t quite out of the woods; in order to see continued momentum we need a commitment from our leaders in Washington to pass legislation that will encourage investment, create jobs and set us on the path towards sustained, long-term economic growth.”

Additional economic insights from the National Retail Federation include:

  • Growth in the labor market should average between 220,000 and 230,000 new jobs per month throughout the year;
  • Unemployment is expected to drop to 5% by year’s end;
  • Gains in equities and housing have boosted net worth to record levels, helping consumers feel more confident about household spending.

“The economy appears to finally have gained some real traction and after a somewhat turbulent 2014, we expect to see continued gains in economic activity in the year ahead,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “While Americans are benefiting from a pickup in wages and jobs and gains in the U.S. stock market, economic slack has been reduced.  We still, however, have a ways to go in order to achieve sustainable economic growth. There are a few wild cards that the retailers will need to keep an eye on, like global economic growth, energy prices and even inflation.”

For more information, visit nrf.com. — J.L.