“The biggest priority is to ensure that our economy continues to grow and to avoid self-inflicted wounds. It’s time for artificial problems like trade wars and shutdowns to end, and to focus on prosperity not politics,” he added.
Robust Employment a Key Driver
While the lesser-than-expected growth doesn’t appear encouraging, NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz did cite strong employment as a key driver for the retail sector moving forward. Job growth during the month of January bested expectations as nonfarm payrolls gained 304,000, according to the latest data from the Labor Department.
“Most important for the year ahead will be the ongoing strength in the job market, which will support the consumer income and spending that are both key drivers of the economy,” said Kleinhenz. “The bottom line is that the economy is in a good place despite the ups and downs of the stock market and other uncertainties.”
Future challenges, however, will be the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, unless the two largest economies can come to a permanent trade deal that’s beneficial for both sides. In the meantime, more tariffs could possibly hurt sales on cotton-based clothing while the broad U.S. economy could also slow down, causing consumers to pare down spending.
For more information on the consumer sector, visit our consumer discretionary category.