A return to positive retail numbers in 2010?

According to one outlook, retail sales will do an about-face this year, with modest growth rather than a modest decline.

The National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, projected retail industry sales will rise 2.5 percent in 2010 after declining by that same percentage in 2009. The projection does not include auto, gas or restaurant sales.

The retail group said it has seen positive signs in influential economic indicators, including in the housing market.

“As we continue to see signs of improvement throughout the U.S economy in 2010, overall sentiment will begin to lift, making way for slight increases in consumer spending,” said NRF Chief Economist Rosalind Wells. “While we still expect shoppers to continue to be frugal with their discretionary spending, retailers will soon be able to reap the benefits of leaner, smarter inventories and a year and a half of pent up consumer demand.”

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