Retail Sales & Consumer Spending Forecast

Economic Forecasts

A Good (but Shorter) Holiday Season is Coming

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

iStockphoto

GDP 2019 growth will be 2.3%; 1.8% in 2020 More »
Jobs Job gains of about 150,000 per month in ’20 More »
Interest rates 10-year T-notes staying around 2% until trade war ends More »
Inflation 2.1% in ’19, up from 1.9% in ’18 More »
Business spending Up just 2% in ’19 amid uncertainty of trade war More »
Energy Crude trading from $50 to $55 per barrel in December More »
Housing 3.5% price growth by year-end ’19 More »
Retail sales Growing 4.3% in ’19 (excluding gas and autos) More »
Trade deficit Widening 7% in ’19 More »

Holiday sales should grow 5.4% over last year: A solid showing, though the year-over-year rise is partly due to soft sales last year, when the stock market tanked. In-store holiday sales should rise 2.4%, while e-commerce should jump 21%. Because there is one fewer week between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, e-commerce sales will receive a boost as some shoppers find themselves in a time crunch to get their shopping done before Christmas.

Total retail sales rose in October after a September dip caused by lower motor vehicle sales. Excluding cars and trucks and gasoline, sales were up only modestly. However, growth in October was narrowly concentrated in cars, food, general merchandise and e-commerce. Most other specialty categories declined.

Solid wage growth and low unemployment have meant good retail sales for 2019 as a whole. Sales excluding gasoline and cars for 2019 as a whole are expected to be 4.2% higher, slightly behind 2018’s 4.7% pace. In-store sales will likely end up 1.6%, while e-commerce will be 15% above last year.

Restaurant sales gains have been modest the past three months. But that follows six months of strong gains earlier in 2019. Over the past year, restaurant sales have roughly mirrored the stock market’s performance. The market is up 24% in 2019, which has likely contributed to consumers’ willingness to eat out. Expect total 2019 restaurant sales growth to come in at 4.6%, down a bit from 2018’s strong 6.3% rise.

Building materials sales have been up and down, and should end 2019 up only 0.8%.

Source: Department of Energy, Price Statistics