NRF forecasts 2017 retail sales to grow 3.7-4.2 pct

Feb 8 (Reuters) - The National Retail Federation said it expects U.S. retail industry sales to increase 3.7-4.2 percent in 2017, citing job and income growth and low debt.

Retail sales, which exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants, had grown 3.75 percent in 2016, the retail industry group said.

"The economy is on firm ground as we head into 2017," NRF Chief Executive Matthew Shay said in a statement on Wednesday. (

The NRF also said it expects the unemployment rate to drop to 4.6 percent by the end of this year. U.S. jobless rate stood at 4.8 percent in January.

Shay, however, warned that fiscal policy changes could impact consumers and the economy and lawmakers should stand against any policies that would increase the cost of everyday goods for American consumers.

“While consumers have strength they haven’t had in the past, they will remain hesitant to spend until they have more certainty about policy changes on taxes, trade and other issues being debated in Congress.”

Online and other non-store sales are expected to increase 8-12 percent in 2017, the retail industry group said. (Reporting by Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)