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© Reuters. Destiny USA mall reopens as COVID-19 restrictions are eased

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(Reuters) – U.S. retail sales could rise as much as 8.2% to more than $4.33 trillion this year as more people get the COVID-19 vaccine and the economy reopens, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said on Wednesday.

Preliminary results show retail sales for 2020 grew 6.7% to $4.06 trillion, above the trade body’s forecast of at least 3.5% growth, the NRF said. The retail sales numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.

“Our principal assumption is that the vaccination will be effective and permits accelerated growth during the mid-year. The economy is expected to see its fastest growth in over two decades,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a statement. (https://

U.S. retail sales are expected to rise between 6.5% and 8.2% in 2021, the NRF said.

Some U.S. retailers like Macy’s (NYSE:) have folded expected benefits from the continued rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine into annual financial forecasts, as shoppers will be able to step out and travel more, helping sales at brick-and-mortar stores pick up.

New rounds of stimulus-driven consumer spending in the coming months will strengthen retail sales, should . Congress pass the Biden administration’s support plan that includes sending a $1,400 check to households.

The NRF also said online sales, which are included in the overall number for 2021, were expected to increase between 18% and 23% to between $1.14 trillion and $1.19 trillion. In 2020, online and other nonstore sales jumped 21.9 percent to $969.4 billion as consumers opted to stay home and place their orders online to curb the spread of the virus.

The trade body’s forecast follows other estimates from companies like consumer research firm Customer Growth Partners (CGP).

Boosted by rounds of stimulus checks and a “new-found momentum across income levels,” CGP said earlier this month that retail sales in 2021 will total a record $4.26 trillion, up 8.1% from $3.94 trillion in 2020.

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