Retail Sales & Consumer Spending Forecast

Economic Forecasts

The Calm Before the Storm

Kiplinger’s latest forecast on retail sales and consumer spending.

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A modest decline in retail sales in February was payback for a strong January. A mild winter for most of the country helped home building and home improvement work to start the year earlier than usual, and probably boosted restaurant traffic as well. Growth in e-commerce sales got back on track in February.

The coronavirus is going to tank retail and restaurant sales. Eleven states and counting have ordered restaurants to close their dining rooms, while still allowing takeout. Retail chains like Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Timberland and Columbia Sportswear are closing for at least two weeks. The Gap is reducing store hours. Likely many retail and restaurant workers have been furloughed or let go entirely. As a result, there is a good chance that 2020 sales will show a decline, after a last year’s 3.5% rise.

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Source: Census Bureau, Retail and Food Service Sales statistics