Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Magic 8 ball says better year for retail

January 26, 2010

shop1Check out a prediction for increased U.S. retail sales this year.

The National Retail Federation said U.S. retail sales should rise 2.5 percent this year, signaling that stores have made it through the worst of the downturn as improvements in the housing and job markets bolster shoppers’ confidence.

The projected increase would be a step up from a 2.5 percent decline last year and 1.3 percent increase in 2008, NRF said.

Don’t get excited, however, as the outlook remains modest.

“I wouldn’t describe this as a very strong year,” NRF Chief Economist Rosalind Wells said in an interview. “We’re not going to have a V-shaped recovery in the economy, and we won’t have a V-shaped recovery in consumer spending or retail sales. It’s a slow return to a more normal level.”

U.S. retailers just completed a better-than-expected holiday season as retail sales rose 1.1 percent instead of the 1 percent drop the NRF had expected for the November-December period. Retail chains improved upon a dismal 2008 (sales down 3.4 percent) by cutting inventories and offering more targeted discounts for frugal shoppers.

In its latest spending and saving tracking survey, American Express found consumers entering 2010 with optimistic yet prudent goals. The poll showed 30 percent of the general population and 42 percent of young professionals will rein in extras such as ”morning lattes and manicures.”

“This year, consumers are focused on finding the right balance between saving and spending,” said Pamela Codispoti, American Express senior vice president and general manager of Cardmember Services. “For some people, we found that means eating out less but buying quality products at the grocery store so it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice.”

Also in the basket:

Nestle waits for market pressures to soften Hershey

Borders boss quits after just over a year at helm

Sherwin-Williams Q4 results beat Street, sees weak Q1

Energizer profit rises, cautious on year

Couture not a crime at Singapore prison

(Reuters photo)

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