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BDO survey: Retail CFOs project 3.9% sales increase in 2015

BY Marianne Wilson

Chicago — Retail CFOs predict a 3.9% increase in total sales and a 3.7% increase in same-store sales in 2015, according to a new BDO USA survey.

While the forecast is about one percentage point lower than 2014’s bullish projections, 66% of retailers expect comparable store sales to increase, and with 71% of retailers including online sales in their comparable store sales reports, a considerable amount of this 2015 growth may come from further e-commerce sales, which grew 16% in 2014, according to eMarketer.

While 54% of retailers expect consumer confidence increases to continue in 2015, there are a number of issues that could hamper gains, including financial market volatility, which roughly 26% of CFOs note as a potential impediment to confidence. Another 26% of retailers expect fuel prices to notably impact confidence levels, compared to just 7% in 2014, as continued rock bottom pump prices help lift consumers’ discretionary spending. Only 23% of retailers cite unemployment as the top factor impacting consumer confidence this year — the lowest amount 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,” said Doug Hart, partner in the consumer business practice at BDO. “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.”

The findings are from the ninth annual BDO Retail Compass Survey of CFOs, which examined the opinions of 100 CFOs at leading retailers throughout the country.

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