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Modest outlook for 2015 retail sales

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Retailer chief financial officers are modestly optimistic about the retail industry’s sales growth prospects for 2015, according to accounting and professional services firm BDO USA LLP.

The BDO Retail Compass Survey of CFOs, which polled 100 CFOs at leading retailers nationwide, forecasts a 3.9% gain in total retail sales and a 3.7%  increase in same-store sales for 2015, which BDO said comes in roughly a percentage point lower than 2014’s bullish projections.

Despite the lower comparable-store sales projection, 66% of the retail CFOs expect comp-store sales to rise. And 71% of retailers including online sales in their comp-store sales reports anticipate that a chunk of the 2015 growth may stem from e-commerce sales.

Twenty-six percent of retailers expect fuel prices to noticeably impact consumer confidence, versus 7% in 2014, as continued rock-bottom pump prices help lift consumer discretionary spending, according to the BDO survey. Job market gains in recent months have only 23% of retail CFOs citing unemployment as a drag on consumer confidence this year, the lowest percentage in the survey’s nine-year history.

“Steadily improving business and labor market conditions helped deliver a strong end to 2014, and as consumer confidence and unemployment are now at pre-recession levels, retail CFOs are upbeat about 2015 performance,” observes Doug Hart, a partner in BDO’s consumer business practice. “This momentum has already carried into the new year, buoyed by ongoing recovery in the housing market and a record decline in fuel prices. As they look ahead to what are typically the slower winter and spring months, retailers are hoping these positive signals carry through to the second half.”


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