National Retail Federation Cuts Retail-Growth Expectations

The National Retail Federation has issued a report saying store sales will continue to grow this year, but not at the pace many merchants had expected.

The Washington, D.C.-based organization cut its retail-sales forecast for 2015 to a growth rate of 3.5 percent, from 4.1 percent.

“For years, consumer spending has been hampered by lackluster growth in our economy. Much of that blame can be shifted to Washington, where too much time has been spent crafting rules and regulations that almost guarantee negative consequences for consumers and American businesses alike,” National Retail Federation CEO and President Matthew Shay said in a statement. “Until the government and our elected leaders get serious about enacting policies that lift consumer confidence, create economic growth and spur investment, we will continue this trend of solid, but not exceptional, performance in the economy.”

The NRF said the retail industry has had to stare down a number of issues, including “treacherous” winter weather in the U.S., problems at the West Coast ports and drops in the energy sector. All of that, according to the report, has triggered a dip in consumer spending.

“Despite all of these hurdles,” said Shay, “we are optimistic that consumer spending during the second half of the year will benefit from recent improvements in the housing and labor markets, along with lower energy costs, and believe consumer confidence will grow enough to bolster retail purchases for the year.”

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