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Economic Forecasts

Consumer Confidence Returns

Kiplinger’s latest forecast on retail sales and consumer spending


GDP 2018 growth is 2.9%; 2.5% for 2019 More »
Jobs Job gains will be around 180,000 per month in 2019 More »
Interest rates 10-year T-notes at 2.8% by end ’19 More »
Inflation 2.2% in ’19, up from 1.9% in ’18 More »
Business spending Up 5% in ’19 as global growth slows More »
Energy Crude trading from $55 to $60 per barrel in June More »
Housing 5.35 million existing-home sales in ’19, up 0.2% More »
Retail sales Growing 4% in ’19 (excluding gas and autos) More »
Trade deficit Widening 7%-8% in ’19 More »

Excluding autos and gas, retail sales bounced back in January, erasing part of December’s big drop. Weather likely prevented a full recovery, as frigidly cold air hit large parts of the country in late January. Also, the federal government shutdown continued through most of the month, reducing consumer spending in areas with a lot of federal workers.

Sales of building materials got a good boost from warmer-than-normal temperatures in the early part of January. Furniture and clothing didn’t see any bounce-back from their December declines, instead dropping further.

Sales likely improved again in February, and should continue to do well. Consumer confidence surged in February as the stock market made major gains. However, smaller tax refunds will likely hurt sales of big-ticket items, such as motor vehicles.

In 2019, sales should still show good growth of 4%, excluding gasoline and autos. E-commerce sales will continue rising aggressively for the 10th straight year — probably 15%. In-store sales will increase, though only at about a 2%-3% rate.


Restaurant sales have shifted into slow-growth mode. Restaurant spending peaked in July and has declined 1.2% since. People will continue eating out more, but by as much as they did during the past several years. Car sales will bounce back from a January setback, but they also are likely settled into slow-growth mode, as demand has largely been satiated.

Source: Department of Energy, Price Statistics