National Retail Federation Revises 2015 Forecast

National Retail Federation, a retail trade group based in Washington, D.C., has lowered its 2015 retail sales forecast to 3.5 percent growth compared with a previous growth forecast of 4.1 percent.

Jack Kleinhenz, NRF’s chief economist, blamed slower growth on volatile economic headlines and extreme weather.

“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,” he said in the July 22 announcement.

“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.”

Matthew Shay, NRF’s president and chief executive officer, described the economy as “solid but not exceptional.” He also forecast that consumer confidence will grow enough to strengthen retail purchasing for the rest of the year.

The NRF’s announcement follows a U.S. Department of Commerce report on June sales noting that sales were down. Excluding autos, gas, building materials and restaurants, core retail sales fell 0.1 percent in June after an increase of 0.7 percent in May.

The announcements were made as the important back-to-school season ramps up. On July 15, NRF released a survey on back-to-school spending.

The survey found that parents with children in grades K–12 plan to spend $630.36 on electronics, apparel and other school needs, down from $669.28 in the 2014 back-to-school season.