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    NRF: Retail Sales Decline in 2009

    Shoppers expected to continue seeking value and trading down to stretch their dollars.

    WASHINGTON, D.C -- Retail industry sales (excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants) will drop 0.5 percent from last year, the National Retail Federation (NRF) projected in its 2009 economic forecast, released yesterday.

    According to its quarterly Retail Sales Outlook report, NRF sees more challenges ahead as consumers continue to shift spending priorities. "Most of the consumer behavior we saw in 2008 will continue well into this year," NRF chief economist Rosalind Wells said in a statement. "Shoppers will be seeking value and trading down to discount and off-price retailers in order to stretch their purchasing power."

    The first half of this year will see a continuation of the weakness felt through most of 2008. First half sales are expected to decline 2.5 percent. Some improvement will come in the third quarter with sales decreasing 1.1 percent. In the fourth quarter, sales are expected to improve 3.6 percent due to easy comparisons to last year, as well as a strengthening economy, according to the NRF forecast.

    NRF is a leading retail trade association, with membership that comprises all retail formats and channels of distribution, as well as the industry's key trading partners.

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