Almost lost in the steady drizzle of downbeat news about the economy is this piece of good news: retail sales are growing again. After declining 2.5 percent last year, the National Retail Federation forecasts retail sales will be up 2.5 percent in 2010, making up all of last year's lost sales volume.
Which means retailing will be back to 2008 levels this year, a hopeful sign since much of the nation didn't start to feel the impact of the financial meltdown until near the end of '08. By next year, NRF forecasts, sales should be back to pre-crash, 2007 volumes.
Are you ready to capitalize on retailing's rebound?
investors are snapping up retail stocks again. That means they think big retailers will be selling more this year...which gives you a sense of the general trend in retailing. And it's up.
Retailers have also begun hiring again, the latest Department of Labor figures show, adding more than 42,000 workers in January, after bringing on fewer than normal seasonal holiday hires. Translation: some of your retail competitors are starting to staff up.
Like any recovery, the sales rise won't be evenly applied. Ecommerce has stayed stronger than retailing as a whole, for instance, while sales of wanna-haves such as computer games dropped more than the average in 2009. The restaurant sector is expected to track right with the retail forecast.
If you haven't reviewed your business plan to lay the groundwork for increased sales, now's the time. It may be time to hire, to ramp up marketing, to increase your networking. Or to review pricing and product offerings--although consumers are feeling more upbeat about spending again, they are expected to remain very price-conscious this year.
Are you feeling the retail sales turnaround yet? Making a plan to get your share of increased consumer spending this year? Tell us about your game plan in the comments.