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NRF Cuts 2015 Retail Sales Growth Forecast

The National Retail Federation (NRF) announced Wednesday that it was lowering its retail sales forecast for 2015 from 4.1% to 3.5% due to slower-than-expected growth recorded for the first half of the year. Although the trade association and lobby group expects sales will steadily increase through the remainder of the year, it won’t be enough to offset the first half decline.

NRF calculated that sales grew 2.9% in the first half of 2015, and are expected to grow at a brisker 3.7% pace over the next five months.

The estimates include general retail sales and non-store sales, but exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants. Revised non-store sales, which include pure-play e-commerce, are  expected to grow between 6 and 8 percent, still within the 7 to 10 percent range originally forecast.

“A confluence of events, including treacherous weather throughout the United States through most of the winter, issues at the West Coast ports, a stronger U.S. dollar, weak foreign growth and declines in energy sector investments all significantly and negatively impacted retail sales so far this year, and thus have changed how future sales will shape up for the rest of 2015,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Additionally, household spending patterns appear to have shifted purchases toward services and away from goods, though this may be transitory. Additionally, a deflationary retail environment has been especially challenging for retailers’ bottom lines.”