By Renée Sunde, President/CEO
If 2017 was the year of the retail apocalypse, 2018 could be the year of retail renaissance. The signs are promising.
It has been a solid second quarter for retail across the nation due to strong consumer confidence and increased consumer spending. Projections, as we head into the 3rd quarter of 2018, don’t show any sign of slowdown, according to the recent Monthly Economic Review put out by the National Retail Federation.
Nationally, retail industry employment increased by 66,000 jobs in July over the same period last year. The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics showed retail job openings at a record monthly high of 807,000 in June but only 734,000 were hired, showing that there are more jobs than hirings. July retail sales increased 4.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year and sales were up 5 percent on a three-month period over the same time last year.
Due to the strength of retail sales in the first half of 2018, the NRF has updated its 2018 forecast. Its update expects a minimum 4.5 percent sales gain over 2017 rather than the 3.8 percent to 4.4 percent range forecasted earlier.
The U.S. trade policy continues to remain the biggest unknown and could cause consumers to be more cautious this fall.