Retail sales expected to increase in 2017, but stores still falter

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Find out what stores are closing down.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Retail sales are expected increase in 2017, but that doesn’t mean good news for brick-and-mortar retail establishments.

Sales are expected to grow between 3.7 and 4.2 percent compared to 2016, according to the National Retail Federation’s economic forecast for 2017. However, online and other non-store sales will increase between 8 and 12 percent — forcing closures of brick-and-mortar stores, including several in the Miami Valley.

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"It is clear that online sales will continue to expand in 2017 and provide growth for the retail industry," said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist. "But it is important to realize that virtually every major retailer sells online and many of those sales will be made by discount stores, department stores and other traditional retailers. Retailers sell to consumers however they want to buy, whether it's in-store, online or mobile."

The economic forecast measures sales for traditional retail stores, department stores, grocery stores, specialty stores and auto parts sales. NRF economists said the forecast is baseline, but does not take into account new fiscal measures that could be brought in by the new Trump administration.

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“With jobs and income growing and debt relatively low, the fundamentals are in place and the consumer is in the driver’s seat,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “But this year is unlike any other – while consumers have strength they haven’t had in the past, they will remain hesitant to spend until they have more certainty about policy changes on taxes, trade and other issues being debated in Congress.”

But several large retailers have already announced brick-and-mortar store closures, signifying a shift in consumer habits. More and more, consumers are heading online for their shopping. In the first month of the year, retailers like Sears, Macy’s, Kmart and Ann Taylor all announced store closures.

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Women’s clothing retailer The Limited closed all brick-and-mortar locations — including ones at The Greene Town Center and the Liberty Center — before filing for bankruptcy. Teen clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, based in New Albany outside of Columbus, also told this news outlet that it would lay off 150 employees this year.

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