​U.S. retail sales forecast gets boosted

NEW YORK - A trade group raised its forecast Tuesday for retail sales growth this year to 3.4 percent, with more help from online sales, as the U.S. economy improves.

That's up from its previous forecast of 3.1 percent growth, he National Retail Federation said. The revision includes expected 7 percent to 10 percent growth in online and other nonstore sales, up from its earlier 6 percent to 9 percent forecast.

An improving housing market, job growth, higher wages and other factors are helping consumer spending, the trade group said.

"Challenges remain, with some greater than others depending on the retail category, but consumer confidence remains high and we believe that retail customers will continue the positive trends we have seen in the first two quarters of the year," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.

Potential hurdles, though, include uncertainty around the presidential election and the possibility of a global slowdown.

According to NRF estimates, retail sales in the first half of the year rose close to 4 percent compared to a year earlier.

The NRF said it may revise its forecast again in October. The group's annual estimate reflects sales at retailers such as discounters, department stores and grocery stores, but it excludes sales at automotive dealers, gas stations and restaurants.