Retail sales predictions for 2008

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The National Retail Federation is predicting that retail industry sales will increase 3.5 percent this year.

NRF analysts expect the current slow pace in sales growth to continue before picking up in the second half of the year, with sales increasing 3.2 percent in the first half of the year followed by a 3.8 percent increase during the second half as economic conditions improve.

“Consumers will be under financial stress from high energy costs, the fallout from the housing slump, and sluggish employment and income growth,” said NRF Chief Economist Rosalind Wells. “Shoppers will seek to pay down debt, spend more in line with income growth, and approach discretionary purchases with more restraint.”