The US chalked up 3.4% growth in retail sales during the all-important fourth quarter of 2007, according to industry researcher Retail Forward and the US Department of Commerce. Now for the bad news, the number represents the weakest retail performance in the past five years, down from a 4.6% hike in 2006 and big 7.4% bump in 2005.
The global management consulting and market research firm had forecasted a 3.3% growth earlier in the year, based on an expected stagnant holiday season for most retail sectors. Mass retailers remained the most resistant to the economic slowdown with supercenters and warehouse clubs among the best performers.
However, 2007 saw a continued slide in apparel and shoe retailer sales, with conventional department stores declining even more than forecasted. Retail Forward forecasts retails sales in 2008 will continue to fall with the exceptions being online sales and big-box retail, which should sustain sales gains.