With the economy now growing steadily for nearly a decade and unemployment near a historic low, incomes have been on the rise. And with higher incomes, consumer spending could be poised to jump. While higher prices at the gas pump could crimp spending, most on Wall Street have a pretty positive outlook for retail.
Roughly 70% of U.S. GDP in 2017 ($19.39 trillion) consisted of personal consumption, broken down into goods and services, with retailers making up a majority of goods sold. Retail sales hit a record of $5.7 trillion in 2017, according to the U.S. Census. That is better than the prerecession high of $4.4 trillion in 2007. It is also a 42% increase from 2009’s record low of $4.06 trillion.
Not only do retailers power the U.S. economy, but also they employ a large portion of the U.S. workforce. Although Education and Health Services (34.48 million jobs) as well as Professional and Business Services (18.84 million) employ more than the Retail trade (16.72 million), the industry still employs roughly 10% of all working Americans.